The Japanese have a beautiful tradition of rescuing broken pottery by using gold dust and lacquer to fill in the cracks and make the vessel usable again. When I first heard about this, it seemed like a beautiful image of grace to me. God filling in our brokenness with his glory, making us more than we once were.
When our journey to becoming missionaries in Japan began ten years ago, we had no idea what we were in for. We have come through our share of scrapes. If I’m being honest sometimes it feels like we were thrown in the washing machine. The first hard knock came when we failed to get our visas approved in 2006. This meant that we had to come home, and build relationships, and find a home here at Union Center. It’s a little crack, but God filled it beautifully despite our rushing and hurrying and impatience. This is grace.
in 2007 God had a word for us that didn’t go over all that well. The word was “Wait” Wait, because I have something for you here, and I know your hearts desire is for Japan, and we’ll get there I promise, but for now, just wait. Again here is God reaching through our hurry to tell us he has a plan for us that doesn’t quite fit with our own. He gave us patience and taught us how to live with it. Another golden repair. This is grace.
Then there are literally near-death experiences, and prolonged health struggles. There were times when the medicines prescribed were almost coma-inducing, and God said “Bear with this for a time.” and he gave us the power to do that because we literally had none of our own. We came through believing God means what he says, and he fixed our brokenness and this is grace.
In January of 2012, during a routine ultrasound, we found out that our baby boy would never make it into this world. On January 14th, Max Elias Pousseur came into this world already belonging to the next, better one. And there was pain, and anger, and grief and God said “I know it hurts, I’m sorry. I’m with you. I lost my son too.” and we believed him because he had already proven himself good to us. This is grace
One month later our hopes for missions were crushed as the previous group we had been accepted into and were planning to work with realized we had gotten tattoos to remember our son, and because of that we couldn’t serve with them anymore. And I thought the dream had died, and that I would stop trying to make it to Japan. God carried us through this pain by surprising us with another baby on the way. Nine months of fear and trembling honed our faith in the pain and sorrow and joy of that year. Jemma faith, our jewel of faith, was born in November of one of the hardest years of our lives. And it ALL was grace. Experiencing God in our pain and weakness has been a beautiful lesson in how he fills our brokenness with gold. God walked with us through our sorrow and he renewed our hopes for Japan.
So now it’s 2015, we have a new organization, a new hope for missions, and I’m feeling pretty good! Brush my hands, thank God that’s over! Time to move on right?
Except God won’t let it rest. See in a very annoying and beautiful way, God isn’t satisfied with just filling cracked pottery with gold. God is in the business of fully restoring lives. The Japanese pottery is a beautiful image, but it is incomplete. See, lately God has been asking for the things that I think I do pretty well. He starts chipping away at what I believe are my strengths and my talents, even though I feel they are pretty adequate to the task, but thankfully, God’s grace is relentless. When we give God control of our lives and we say the prayer we don’t just get to say “patch me up and send me off” as if God were our spiritual mechanic. There is no earthly end for the work of grace. God wants to take all of us, all those leftover parts of clay that we mistakenly call good until we compare them with the full vision of what grace can accomplish. Grace that says, “I will not let you be satisfied with adequate” Grace that says “I want to make all of you new, every part of you gold” But this really hurts because he’s not chipping into dead flesh anymore. And I’m realizing that I spend the majority of my efforts in life avoiding him, and denying him the pleasure of rebuilding me, and shunning his attempts to remake me, because you can have my brokenness, God, but the rest of me is just fine. Thanks anyway, see you Sunday. And it’s only when I am able, finally and with much convincing on God’s part, to weather the discomfort and release little bits of my person, the tiniest parts of my supposed strength, that I see just what grace can do. God has a lot of work left to do in my life, and it’s going to hurt a little. But in my sane moments, I know that God will make a far better job of it than I ever could, so why shouldn’t I let him? And when I act on that, I realize that everything is weakness in comparison with what God has to offer. What I thought were my strengths are just as weak as the rest of me.
7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ
And this is grace.