Last night I went to a dinner in honor of the men and women who volunteer at our local prison. (My husband is one of them.) The young man who spoke to the group is well-known to many of us. He’s an articulate and successful college basketball coach who has invested his life in ministering to youth – all over the world — and setting them on the right path. He told the group that if he was one of the inmates, he would simply say, “Thanks” for their presence. Then he stepped down from the podium, stood level with the audience, and said he could imagine that because he used to be one of the inmates.
God got hold of his life and changed him from the inside out. All because one volunteer cared enough to stick with him and speak God’s truth into his heart.
He could easily have been bitter since he’d gotten caught while others escaped punishment. Instead, he expressed gratitude for his years in prison because that’s where He met Jesus. Another prisoner from long ago, Joseph, also had the right perspective. He told his brothers who’d wronged him, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” (Genesis 50:20)
Anyone could have stood up last night and preached to the choir about the importance of service. Anyone could have thanked the group of volunteers. But only someone who had lived it could speak with the power and authenticity I heard last night.
Only someone who had lost years of their life to the locusts’ ravages could speak of the healing power of God’s love and forgiveness.
We all make mistakes. I do; you do. You might be tempted to try to cover yours up and pretend it never happened. Or to blame others – society, family, government – and never take personal responsibility. It takes depth of character to own your sins, to grow from them, and then to let God use them to help others. To allow God to redeem your past.
To let God in to heal the locust years. The theme of locusts is especially poignant for Steve and I. In our wedding vows, I promised to do all I can to be part of the way that God makes up to him for the years the locusts have eaten. (Joel 2:25)
Recently, I read about an ancient Japanese practice, called kintsugi, of mending broken ceramics with gold resin. The shattered object becomes even more beautiful once it is repaired. Beauty rises from the ashes. Rather than hiding the scar, the crack becomes the focal point. What if you stopped hiding your wounds and instead put them on display?
When you offer all of your life back to God – the good parts and the parts you wish you could go back and change – He gently takes it and weaves it all together to make something glorious. So tell your story — the real story. Expose the cracked, broken parts so that your pain can be turned into healing for someone else. Healing at the exact place where you were most deeply hurt. When you do that, you reflect the glory of the Potter.
That’s what I saw last night.