Art's Metaphors for God's Work

I am finding that writing blog posts while I am writing a book to be a daunting task. Either I do not have sufficient discipline--or emotional strength--to do both well. But, recently I was astounded by a revelation from God concerning the beautiful picture painted by certain artistic metaphors. I am still unpacking the full significance of these artistic treasures, but I'll share a couple of them for your consideration.

I have often referred to my deep grief experience following the murder of our eldest son as a time of "breaking" or even "being shattered." But, as I stood in the studio of my artist friend, Mako Fujimura, I saw that what I had actually experienced was a "crushing." Mako is a master artist in the 17th-Century art of Nihonga ("Japanese Painting"). This is not the place for me to detail how his artistic style replicates my experience, but it is sufficient to highlight the method for the metaphor will be clear. Mako takes precious minerals and carefully crushes then in a time-consuming effort with a mortar and pestle. Once the granules are exactly the right size, he mixes them with a very special glue, using his hands in a gentle, but consistent manner. Only once the pigments are deemed exactly right by the Master Craftsman, does he begin the laborious task of applying the color in a layer by layer fashion. Gold or silver leaf is then carefully applied. The result is a luminous, deep treasure of beauty. 

God's promise to me that He could take the "broken (crushed) pieces of my life and make something beautiful" came alive as I witnessed Mako's art-making. The Creator, the real Master Artist, is producing beauty in a life--not merely on a canvas of silk or hand-made paper. Repeatedly God's Word reminds of this promise. "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed" (Psalm 34:18) is merely one of the many Scriptures. God is producing an piece of art--unique, yet infinitely beautiful WITH the crushed pieces of our lives.

Two other metaphors from art involved the making of pottery. God, the Creator, is called "the one who forms"--an ancient name for a potter. In Jeremiah 18 and Isaiah 64 God is called the "potter" and we are the "clay." God, as the Sovereign Ruler, can form us as he wills and can "crush" us back into a moldable lump of clay for his refashioning. 

A special form of pottery is the Japanese "Kintsugi." The artisans, greatly respecting the materials and form of a piece of pottery, refuses to discard cracked or damage pieces. Instead, this method of "golden joinery" fills the cracks with precious gold, silver or platinum, mixed with lacquer. The end result is a piece of art worth so much more than before the damage occurred. Again, such is our God. 2 Corinthians 4:7 calls us "clay pots holding the spiritual treasure"--which shines through in the cracks and holes of our lives. Beauty and strength hides within us--waiting to be revealed in our brokenness. God doesn't reject us, nor does he hide our flaws--but reveals himself in all his glory.

These themes will be explored more deeply in my upcoming book, but I wanted to share my "ah-ha" moment with God so that you might be encouraged as well. Allow God to make something beautiful out of your brokenness today.