Lessons from a teapot
I’ve mentioned in other posts that I’ve been traveling the last couple weeks, and last Sunday I visited a church where the pastor shared a really sweet and thoughtful children’s message. He talked about how, when he was a child, his grandmother used to have a prized teapot that she kept on a velvet cloth in a spot of honour in her china cupboard. The teapot was never to be touched except once a year when she would bring it out for her birthday. It was her most precious possession, and she would often tell her kids and grandkids about how old and valuable it was, and how if they sold it when she was old (which she already was), the money would be enough for her to live on for several years.
Of course, as you may have seen coming, one year when the children were playing card games together in the living room, suddenly they heard a piercing crash in the kitchen. With white faces, their wide eyes darted to one another’s in horror before they gathered the courage to rush to the kitchen. Sure enough, their uncle stood horrified and embarrassed over the shattered remains of what was once the precious teapot, now mixed and soaked with tea and soggy tea bags.
A few weeks later, the pastor went back to his grandmother’s house. Sorrowfully glancing in the china cupboard, he saw a dark circle on the velvet where the teapot used to sit. But as he walked into the living room, much to his surprise, there sitting in the sunshine on the windowsill was…the teapot! He ran up to it, trying to figure out how this could be possible. Studying the precious antique, he realized his grandmother had collected every tiny piece that she could find from off the floor, and had painstakingly put the teapot back together again piece-by-piece like an almost impossibly delicate puzzle. She had not been able to find all of it, so the teapot had some holes in it, but the grandmother had put some dirt in the teapot and planted flowers in it so that from every hole a flower now grew out. “Oh, so you’ve seen my new teapot,” the grandmother said as she came into the room, “It doesn’t look much like it did before, but everyone who comes now and sees it says it looks just as lovely – perhaps even more lovely than it used to!” she said proudly.
We are all, each and every one, just like that shattered teapot. God created mankind so beautifully, to be in perfect harmony with Him, yet all of us have been broken into a million tiny pieces, messy with metaphorical cold, soggy teabags and spread all over the floor. How silly and vain the pursuit of trying to convince anyone we’re really “put together” in this state! Only when we submit to the handiwork of our Maker, the One who holds us precious above all else, can we be made beautiful again.
Now we have no need to be ashamed of any area of brokenness – it has no bearing or connection to us anymore! Our cracks may still show, and there will be holes, but these are exactly the places that God grows in us new life, exactly the spots where the glory and handiwork of our Maker can be shown most beautifully. These are also the spots that can be the most beautiful testimony to a world that still exists in a state of brokenness. Let’s not let pride, insecurity, or foolishness deny God or the world the knowledge of our brokenness, and the testimony of the freedom and confidence we’ve found in God’s putting us back together again, and His growing new life precisely in the places where brokenness once was.
God is the source of the freedom, healing, and beautifying we’re all searching for, and if we’re willing to be vulnerable with our brokenness first before Him, and then before the world, we can show the way for all to find it for themselves. We have no need to stay broken on the floor, and no need to pretend we’re put together. We ARE put together now – we certainly haven’t always been, and there may be areas that are still God’s works in progress, but by His patient, delicate dedication and caring, our brokenness has now been made beautiful. By God’s continued grace, let us freely share that former, once-mutual brokenness, and invite the world into the re-beautifying that God freely offers us all.