Kintrugi bowl

Gaining By Losing

Addition By Subtraction

Steve Fisher, head coach for the University of Michigan men’s basketball team in the 1990s, spoke my favorite paradox ever. During his tenure as head coach, I served as the athletic trainer for those temes, including the historic “Fab Five.” The unforgettable statement Steve said that I’ve never forgotten: addition by subtraction.I absolutely loved it! Gaining by losing.

It was his respectful of making an honest statemenb. He was saying that a teammate had made the decision to transfer to another NCAA Division 1 institution. And apparently Coach felt that the chemistry of the team would be better without him. He was inferring that something had been gained by something being lost. The perfect paradox!

Black-And-White Is Too Easy To Understand

If we consider what we read about God and His ways as finite and explainable enough to fully comprehend, there’s a good chance we’re diminishing the amazing truth held within it. It’s only by faith that we can even begin to appreciate the depth and breadth of His nature and His ways. And these cannot be found in the extremes. Honestly, the extremes tend to leave little room for true faith. They compel us to greater levels of human understanding, expectation, and control.

“’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’”

isaiah 55:8-9 niv

A Profound Difference

Years ago, there was a beloved Christian preacher and publisher named Henry Clay Trumbull. He wrote an entire book about the profound difference in our ways from the ways of God. Trumbull stated,

“It stands to reason that if there is a God in heaven, He would look at things differently from us, from a different vantage and perspective. That results in paradoxes – statements that appear to be contradictory but are actually more true than we can even comprehend. The law of the Christian life is, in itself, a paradox. It is made up of seeming contradictions. All its teachings are contrary to the common opinions of man. According to this law, giving is getting; scattering is gaining; holding is losing; having nothing is possessing all things; dying is living; it is he who is weak who is strong; happiness is found when it is no longer sought; the clearest sight is of the invisible; and things which are not bring about things which are.”

Henry Clay Trunbull

God’s Paradoxes

I’ve been a born-again Christian since I was twenty-one years old. I have been intrigued by the truths of the Bible that land somewhere inexplicably between the opposites. Those have been the lessons that have most meaningfully convicted my heart, grown my faith, and deepened my relationship with Jesus.

  •  To be whole, I must be broken (from Psalm 51:17)
  •  To really live, I must die (from Galatians 2:20).
  •  To save my life, I must lose it (from Luke 17:33)
  •  To be wise, I must become foolish (from 1 Corinthians 3:18)
  •  To reign, I must serve (from Matthew 25:21)
  •  To be exalted, I must become humble (from Matthew 23:12) 7
  •  To be first, I must be last (from Matthew 20:16)
  •  To bear fruit, I must first die (from John 12:24)
  •  To be strong, I must become weak (from 2 Corinthians 12:10)
  •  To have, I must freely give (from Acts 20:35)
  •  To be free, I must submit (from Romans 6:18)
  •  To gain, I must lose (from Philippians 3:7-8)
  •  To possess, I must accept having nothing (from 2 Corinthians 6:10)
  •  To find happiness, I must stop seeking it (from Matthew 5:3-10)
  •  To be more like Jesus, I must die to who I am (from Matthew 16:24)

There is no greater example of God’s paradoxes than God’s promise to turn the broken pieces of our lives into masterpieces! That is an incredible paradox – a perfect masterpiece created entirely from broken pieces?

Kintrugi bowl

Kintsugi: Precious Restoration

Kintsugi = Precious Recreation Kintsugi is the centuries-old Japanese art of giving new life to broken pottery. Rather than rejoin ceramic pieces with an invisible adhesive, the Kintsugi technique employed a special tree sap lacquer dusted with powdered gold. Once completed, beautiful seams of gold glint in the conspicuous cracks of ceramic wares, gave a distinctive appearance to each “re-created” piece.

This unique method celebrated each item’s unique history by emphasizing its fractures and breaks instead of hiding or disguising them. In fact, Kintsugi often makes the repaired piece even more precious and valuable than the original, remaking it with a new look and giving it a new life. While Kintsugi’s origins aren’t entirely clear, historians believe that it dates back to the late fifteenth century. According to legend, the craft commenced when Japanese shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa sent a precious cracked tea bowl back to China to undergo repair. To esteem the one who owned the item, craftsmen sought to employ an aesthetically pleasing method of restoring, and Kintsugi was born.

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