Last year, I attended a thought-provoking conference for writers that challenged my thinking.
As a Christian author, I work hard to ensure my books contain Christian themes and principals: redemption, deliverance, faith, hope, covenant, salvation, justice, forgiveness.
Because of this effort, I struggle with my own past. The devil is good at attacking those who seek to do God's will and he has definitely attacked me over the years.
Our conference guest speaker, Allen Arnold, reminded me of the healing that comes from God. I was struggling spiritually. My heart was heavy. Without knowing the significance of his actions, Allen Arnold provided me with a composition book with the word Kintsugi written on it. I quickly Googled the word and saw what it meant:
By repairing broken ceramics it’s possible to give a new lease of life to pottery that becomes even more refined thanks to its “scars”.
The Japanese concept of Kintsugi aligns perfectly with my story. I am a broken vessel repaired by a good and merciful God. I have been given a new lease on life and am more refined thanks to my "scars."
But revisiting that brokenness is never easy. I remember one day, at another writers' conference, where I had to deal with the sins and shame of my past. I sat in a hotel room I shared with two other Christian women. These two women were almost twenty years younger than me. In the room, they spoke of how they had met their husbands and how they had waited to be intimate with their husbands until their wedding nights.
It was like listening to fairy tale romances! I sat there mesmerized by their lovely stories. And then it hit me.
You see, my own story isn't all that romantic. My husband and I had dated for almost 3 years and we did not wait for our wedding night to be intimate. We participated in sexual sin as Christians. Knowing full well what we were doing was wrong, we continued. Our actions displeased God immensely. It was a time of great darkness for me. The darkness engulfed me and separated me from Christ. Not the love of Christ, nothing can separate us from His love, but I couldn't have fellowship with Him while living in sin.
Living in daily sin as a Christian has a horrifying effect. I became so depressed. It felt like I was at war with the darkness. And the darkness almost won. I almost took my life. But God intervened and stopped me...and admonished me.
As I sat there listening to these young women tell their romantic stories of courtship with their spouses, I didn't say a word. Inside I was hoping they wouldn't turn to me and ask me about my courtship. I was hoping they wouldn't ask me to share because I had shame. In the midst of their beautiful "light-filled" stories of love and obedience to God, the darkness and shame of my past began to fill the room. Their light began to hurt my eyes just like it did when I had lived in darkness for almost 3 years.
The shame made me sick to my stomach. I was reminded of who I used to be: That broken vessel.
Blessedly, the two young women didn't ask. They simply went about the rest of their day. "Whew," I thought. "So glad I didn't have to revisit my past..."
Yet, I did revisit it. I often do.
Broken Vessels Repaired by God
I read through the information about Kintsugi with tear-filled eyes. It was the first time I had ever heard of this Japanese concept. Who knew you could repair what was broken and then reuse it!
He knew what I needed to see that morning. He saw my heart that morning. I couldn't believe it! But then, as Yoda said, that's why we fail isn't it? We don't believe God when He says He resides with a broken and contrite spirit:
"I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite..." Isaiah 57:15
Why does God dwell with those with a contrite and lowly spirit? To revive the spirit! He repairs us so we can be used by Him.
I am repaired by a loving God. As a result, like the Kintsugi vases, I am more beautiful now than I was then. Today I regret not telling those two young women my story. Who knows how God could have used it.
So, I am telling my story now: I am a sinner saved by a loving, merciful God! I was broken, but He repaired me to be used by Him. Now I shine with the Light of Christ.
My story could have shown those two young women how God works in us in spite of us. He takes what is rejected and despised by the world and uses us. Much like how King David sought out the family of his enemy, Saul, because he remembered his covenant with his beloved friend, Jonathan.
King David's servants brought to him Mephibosheth, the lame grandson of Saul. A lame man is considered broken, a reject of society, unable of being anything other than a beggar for life. Yet, King David welcomed him into his court. He sat Mephibosheth at his table and treated him like one of his sons.
One of his sons!
What a beautiful picture of what God does for us. He repairs us, seats us at His table, and loves us as much as He loves His own Son, Jesus.
Repaired By God
How amazing is our God! Look how much He loves us. He knew I was down that morning. He knew I struggled with my past. Yet He used the Japanese concept of Kintsugi to remind me of how much He loves me and wants to use me to do His good works.
How is God speaking to you, today? How is He challenging you to use your story to tell others about His wonderful works?
You are a broken vessel repaired by God. Go and tell others about it! They need to know...