So, what fun for me to have my youngest son give you a welcome in Japanese. Especially for my Japanese listeners, or those fluent Japanese, as they’re the only ones who knew what he was saying. Which was, thank you for listening and hoping you are blessed by it.
As many of you know, my son, daughter-in-love and new granddaughter as missionaries in Japan. What I’ve come to realize is that most people don’t understand why Japan – a first world country – would need missionaries to dedicate their entire lives to sharing the gospel there. I, too, had a lot of questions because I didn’t know anything about Japan, the Japanese people, their culture, and religion.
Bottom line, Japan’s religious history consists of worship in Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. However, most participation at the shrines and in the temples is based mostly on tradition and good luck and have little to do with actual worship of Shintoism and Buddhism. In fact, a recent poll shows that the majority of the Japanese people claim no religion at all. They put their hope and help in no one but themselves. And that’s a lot of pressure for a society that is relying on themselves to do their best, work hard beyond their limits, to persevere, to not make mistakes, and definitely not admit weaknesses. It can adversely affect mental and emotional health, as you can imagine, and lead to suicide. Suicide is the number one cause of death among 15 to 39 year olds at a thirty year high in 2018. There were over 21 thousand suicides reported in 2022. They need Jesus.
But here’s something interesting. There’s so much of this description of the Japanese people that could also be attributed to Americans. Especially the self-reliance and materialism. We might also argue that Americans overwork with a need to find their value and worth in their production and/or position. Perhaps we could make many of these arguments for just about every people group. Because we all are people born with an innate desire to find our worth, not in something, but in Someone. And we are striving to fill what you may have heard before called the God-sized hole in all of us.
As we try to find other things besides Christ to fill that hole, we are left unfulfilled, confused, frustrated, depressed. We strive. We run after things that don’t satisfy. We chase after things that lead us down dangerous paths. We look to unreliable things to make us feel safe. We choose things that we think are going to make us feel significant, important, valuable, or loved. And it leaves us - not whole - but broken.
In Japan, when a pottery piece is broken, it’s not thrown away. The Japanese art form that involves repairing broken pottery is called Kintsugi. It’s a technique that puts the object back together using gold resin. A Kintsugi artisan is able to use this technique to not only make the broken object look beautiful and unique, but to also emphasize the beauty of imperfection and brokenness. It’s a belief that the breakage and repair by the artisan is a significant part of the history of the object, rather than something to hide or run from.
Throughout the Bible, we see a similar concept of “brokenness” and “repair” in many stories. But the one that really stands out to me is the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15, verses 11 through 32. This is a story that highlights the beauty of restoration and redemption after brokenness. The youngest son chose to leave his father and squandered his inheritance living a reckless life of indulgence. He thought he was missing out. He was searching for something to fulfill him; searching for significance and identity outside of his father’s house. But he wasted all his money – which is the definition of prodigal: spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant - and he was forced to get a job as a hired hand for a pig farmer. When he was so desperate, wanting to eat the food he was feeding to the pigs, he realized that his father’s servants were eating better than he was. He longed to be back in his father’s house. So, he decides he’s going to return to his father, beg for forgiveness and ask to be his father’s servant. When he arrives to his father’s property, he realizes that his father has been waiting and watching eagerly for his son’s return. His father runs to him with open arms and restores him to his position in the family. He took a gold ring and put it on the finger of the very broken son.
It’s through the son’s brokenness and repentance that he experiences true restoration and forgiveness. Just like the prodigal son, we are all broken in one way or another. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
In the story, the character of the watching, waiting, forgiving father is a picture of God in His loving attitude towards the lost and those who have wandered off.
It’s through God’s grace and love we can experience redemption and restoration. In Christ, we find grace, acceptance, and rest. We are repaired, just like the broken pottery repaired with Kintsugi. God is the Kintsugi Artisan. He is our Kintsugi Artisan. He takes our broken pieces and puts us back together with His perfect love. And He turns us into something beautiful and valuable. He uses our brokenness for an opportunity of growth, transformation, and ultimately, uses that brokenness to point us to our God-given purpose, rather than something to hide or run from.
Japanese Kintsugi serves as a beautiful metaphor for God’s love and grace in our brokenness. It reminds us that even though we are broken, we are still valuable and can be made whole through the power of the love and grace of God – The Kintsugi Artisan. You, friend, have a Heavenly Father who is always watching and waiting with open arms to receive the one with broken pieces in order to put you back together again; To make you beautiful and unique; To emphasize the beauty of your imperfection and brokenness, and to use it for your God-given purpose. Friend, won’t you bring your broken pieces to The Kintsugi Artisan who is watching and waiting to restore you?
Friend, if you feel like you might be a prodigal son – or daughter – and you’re looking for some spiritual direction in bringing your broken pieces back to the Father, I’d love to be your Life Coach and mentor.
I’ve put a link in the show notes for a free 30-minute call so we can see if we’re a good fit to work together.
Also, don’t forget to get the free, downloadable guide that complements this episode. The link is in the show notes, also.
Oh, and, don’t forget to get that Podcast roadmap that has different topics clumped together by content. You can get that at triciazody.com/roadmap. I will put that in the show notes, also.
Okay, have a wonderful week, friends. See you next Wednesday for the next episode of Another Beautiful Life.