Becoming Comfortable with the Uncomfortable - Part 1
A few weeks ago, Tim shared a picture with us that he’d had that he felt was important for the church at this stage of its journey. The picture was of being stood at the end of the pier looking out to sea, leaving everything else behind us. There was a feel to this picture that God was calling us to reach a point in ourselves, where we could leave ‘us’ behind and step into what God had for each of us.
I was particularly moved and challenged by this picture given that I am now in a situation where I am out of work and looking for a new job. Over these last few weeks and months, God has taken me to places I have never been before, and I have had to learn to become comfortable with the uncomfortable.
I’m not usually one for reading and so decided to look on YouTube to see if there were any good talks out there on what it meant to reach ‘the end of me’. I found a brilliant sermon that raised many valid points and within the sermon, the preacher mentioned how he had based parts of his talk on a book that he had read, 'The End of Me' by Kyle Idleman. I decided it was time to invest in a book and I am so glad that I did. The book is written around The Sermon on the Mount and focuses on each of the beatitudes in turn. In this article I’d like to share with you some of Kyle’s insights from the book along with my own thoughts and application around my reading focused on the first two beatitudes. Coming ‘to the end of me’ can sound like a dramatic life event, and sometimes it is, but we certainly shouldn’t wait for some life changing event before we’re ready to take stock of where we’re at. Coming to the end of ourselves is a daily choice. When we wake in the morning, we make a choice whether to live that day with us in the driving seat or whether to hand over control to God.
"Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven" Matthew 5:3
It is worth noting that in this passage the word ‘poor’ translates to ‘destitute’. Kyle writes about a landfill site in Paraguay with over 100 residents. Each day, over 1500 tonnes of rubbish is dumped onto the site. That is equivalent to the weight of over 200 elephants or 4 Boeing jets. Each day, the residents sift through the rubbish looking for items that they can resell in the hope of being able to afford food for their families. One day, a man named Favio Chavez visited the area and was horrified by what he saw. He decided to use his passion for music and asked the local people to start looking for certain items of junk. He then taught the people how to use these items to build instruments. Violins were made from forks and tin cans; drums were made using x-rays for the skins. The idea grew to the point where a children’s orchestra, known as the Landfill Harmonic was established, giving children the opportunity to learn an instrument and be part of something that has brought joy and a sense of togetherness to their community. Listening to the instruments, you would have no idea that they had been put together using pieces of rubbish. The sound is beautiful. As Kyle points out ‘In the midst of absolute poverty and destitution there is hope and joy’. What was simply junk was transformed into something which brought joy and had a new purpose. Kyle writes ‘Conventional wisdom tells us to radiate self-confidence, to show we’re self-sufficient but Jesus says that the Kingdom begins when we take an inventory of ourselves and come up with zero.’ All too often the temptation is to create a front that tells those around us that we’ve got it all together, but Jesus calls for something different.
In Jeremiah 18 it talks about the potter taking a marred pot and forming it as seemed best to him. The phrase that stuck out to me in this passage was ‘as seemed best to him’. The potter was skilled in his trade and knew the best way to shape that lump of clay. He could have used the clay to make a range of different shaped or sized pots, but he knew the best way of using that clay. This challenged me to consider whether we allow God to be the potter in our own lives. Do we make ourselves into what we want to be, or do we allow God to shape us into what seems best to him? As Luke 9 points out, "Whoever wants to hang onto their life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will find it." Are we willing to hand over all areas of our lives fully to God?
Kyle goes on to write ‘Many of us want to be made whole without having to be broken. The truth is that we are all broken, some just do a better job at hiding it. However, brokenness is the way to wholeness.’
In the physical world, broken things lose their value and can often end up being thrown in the bin, but the opposite of this is found in our relationship with God. It is our flaws and cracks that become the openings through which God can truly reveal his beauty and power. The question therefore, is whether we’re willing to let the cracks show.
In his book, Kyle likens this to the Japanese form of art, Kintsugi Pottery. This is where broken pottery is put together using gold, silver or bronze lacquer and often ends up being of far more value than it started out with. This is a brilliant example of what God can do with us, if we let him. A very good friend of mine messaged me a day after I had read about Kintsugi Pottery. He sent me a picture of a small piece of patio area that he had taken great pleasure in creating using broken pieces of patio slabs. He had recently moved and had decided to bring some of the spare paving slabs from his old house to the new address. The paving slabs didn’t fit the space that needed to be filled and so my friend decided to break some of the slabs up in order to create a beautiful new paved area within his garden. He went on to ask if I’d heard about Kintsugi Pottery and proceeded to explain what it is all about. He strongly felt that there was a lesson in there for both him and I and so had decided to share it. Little did he know that only the day before I had also read about this art form and the way in which God can take us, no matter how broken we feel, and put us back together in a way that only he can. Moments like these are no coincidence. We should take encouragement from the fact that God will not only speak to us, but those around us as we journey with him. So, this brings us back to the first beatitude: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven". It is when we come to the end of ourselves, acknowledge our flaws and give God the broken pieces that he will make us whole and into who he truly intended us to be. The question is, are we willing to give God all of who we are, every broken part, in order to be made into something even better?
Click here to read part 2 of Jen's article and here to read part 3.