September 3, 2016
On my morning drive to work this summer, I would pass by the demolition of a local hospital. The merging of Springfield’s two major hospitals into a new building left two empty buildings to sit vacant. Every year since, every time I would pass the hospital I thought to myself, ‘how sad, something that once had so much life is nothing but a shell’. Starting out, they would take smaller pieces off to get to the core of the building, and eventually began ripping floor after floor apart until there were only a few hospital rooms that could be made out.
I couldn’t figure out what made the building so intriguing- the fact that I could remember what the building used to be, or that I knew there was a possibility of something new being built.
This summer was definitely one of those summers. As you all followed me to Africa to see how God worked through my discomfort, I came back to even more heartbreak than I left. I came back to the funeral of someone incredibly dear to me, and stood beside the pain of a greater loss than I can imagine. Along with the pain of loss, a few occurrences seemed to rip whatever floors I had left hanging to the ground, and I was truly nothing but a pile of rubble.
The problem I was facing was that every morning that I would pass the hospital, a small voice kept telling me that was me. I knew there was truth in that, but the voice was persuasive to the point that it felt paralyzing, almost as though rubble was my final destination.
Now I realize that wasn’t true, but I know too many people who that is true for. In the moment, that was the only truth I could see or feel. And to be honest, that’s where I would’ve stayed, because it IS crippling, it IS impossible for someone to move the mess and breathe again.
The most disappointing part for me was that the only person I had under the rubble was myself. Talk about an ugly mirror. I got to see how I dealt with conflict, and unfortunately that was to curl up in a ball and ignore the problem. Cue suffocation.
“Yet God”…light at the end of the tunnel. The two words that take us from destruction and change our trajectory from past to present, destruction to hope. Question number 2: can God really create beauty from rubble?
I guess we can only answer this in light of eternity. What’s beautiful to one person is subjective, but beauty in light of eternity to a God who works in our time is objective. Why? Because we are only a piece of the building process. If bricks weren’t shaped, the building would crumble. Only the architect can truly see out construction because he has the end product in mind.
Kintsugi (金継ぎ?) is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold. Instead of using it to disguise the break, it is used instead to show every crack, and reveal the history of the object as a way of embracing what is flawed or imperfect. If you haven’t seen this kind of pottery, it is breathtakingly beautiful.
Once again we ask, how can something that was shattered be beautiful? The artist had intention. There was purpose, and that’s how we rebuild. If the artist sees the possibility of beauty, he won’t leave the dish shattered. He mixes the powdered gold, fits every piece back together, and seals it with his imprint. Purposely pursued. Intentionally rebuilt to reflect beauty.
Why is that so hard to accept? Why is it so much easier to see ourselves as rubble instead of refined gold seen in Isaiah 48? Because it hurts. That’s not a hard question to answer. Its easier to sit as a vacant, untouched building than be broken apart piece by piece.
I guess the only thing I can say to my brothers and sisters who feel vacant is to look ahead, because there is beauty and hope in surrendering to the pursual of our architect. The artist sees our brokenness, and as I said He won’t leave us that way if we surrender to an eternal perspective. I’m not saying forget about the pain. I’m saying deal with it. Confront it. Let it reshape you. Let it grow you. Let it strengthen you. Let it launch you from present thinking to an eternal sight of beauty. Most importantly let it drive you into the arms of your true love, a God who sees you, who is near to you, and who is gluing you together with the purest gold to show off His incredibly beautiful treasure- scars and all.