Do you ever feel like you need God to do a work of restoration in your life? We need times of refreshment and restoration. We need this because something has been depleted or diminished.
I can identify with this experience on many levels because my work comes with hidden kinds of depletion. To be completely honest, I am often unaware of how much it affects me until I go away.
The first couple of days, I feel like someone opened the pressure relief valve. I release many thoughts, concerns and feelings in prayer to God. I’ve stored these up in the flow of the demands of ministry — sometimes unaware of the intensity of their presence and pressure. This is why restoration, healing and refreshment are needed in the rhythm of life and ministry.
The Psalmist wrote about God leading him beside still waters and restoring his soul (Psalm 23:2-3). He later asked God to restore the joy of salvation (Psalm 51: 12). But restoration has much wider implications for all of us. It’s not just a matter of vacation; it’s what we need from the moment we enter the world.
What do we mean by restore?
- to return to its original or usable and functioning condition
- to regenerate: return to life; get or give new life or energy
Obviously our most original condition is best described in Genesis 1:26-27
“Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
By the time He had finished His original work of Creation, “God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!” (Genesis 1:31). But something went terribly wrong early in the story of humanity. Something vandalized God’s good creation.
Since that time, most people feel like something is missing from their lives. We have moments when life feels whole, full and satisfying but these times easily give way to a sense that we are not what we’re supposed to be. Something great has fallen from its greatness. Something amazing has lost its amazement. Something beautiful has lost its beauty. Something whole is broken. Something healthy is sick and in need of healing. Something peaceful has been disturbed.
Words like lost, wayward, drifting, restless are all fitting terms for us–for our condition. These are ways of describing what we feel when we’re most sober and honest. The words of Scripture resonate with honest clarity: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We have fallen from something great and stand in need of restoration.
What kind of people did Jesus invite to turn to Him? Weary, burdened and restless ones.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Doesn’t this sound like restoration? We must come to Him once for salvation and return to Him often for restoration— for rest for our souls.
“Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls” (I Peter 1:25).
We are not at peace with anything or anyone:
Looking at this world through any lens (or mirror) leads one to conclude that we are not at peace or truly reconciled with anything or anyone in an unhindered way. If we reach a measure of peace, it’s not maintained effortlessly and too soon disappears. This is true in all dimensions of existence.
You are not at peace with:
- Your body – It is threatened by many opposing realities. This is why we diet, exercise and contract diseases.
- Your mind – It is threatened by anxiety, depression, evil thoughts and much more.
- Your environment – Nature threatens to destroy us if we don’t respect its powers and our dependency on it: We can have too little or too much rain or sun. We call the destructive forces storms and they come in many kinds (floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes, etc…).
- Your self – Sometimes we observe people who never seem to be able to get their “act” together and we ask, “What’s her problem?” Someone answers, “Oh, she’s got issues.” Other times, after years of struggling, we’ll say of someone, “He’s finally at peace with himself.”
- Your relationships – There are endless difficulties with family, friends and neighbors. Is there ever guaranteed peace and reconciliation between people? No. It’s almost always the opposite: conflict and hostility; revenge and war. Whether it is individual-to-individual, race-to-race or nation-to-nation. Someone described peace as that glorious moment in history when everyone stops to reload. Absence of peace is real and tragic.
The absence of peace (shalom) runs like a fault-line through human history and through every human heart — through my heart.
Not the way it’s supposed to be:
“Human life is not the way it’s supposed to be. And so…the world’s great thinkers often diagnose the human predicament and prescribe various remedies for it. They diagnose oppression and prescribe justice. They diagnose the conformism of bad faith and prescribe the freedom of authentic choice. A few look at the world, fall into a depression, and put their prescription pad away.”
“Christians think that the usual diagnoses and prescriptions catch part of the truth, but that they do not get to the bottom of it. The real human predicament, as Scripture reveals, is that inexplicably, irrationally, we all keep living our lives against what’s good for us. In what can only be called the mystery of iniquity, human beings from the time of Adam and Eve (and, before them, a certain number of angelic beings) have so often chosen to live against God, against each other, and against God’s world. We live even against ourselves.”
“Near the beginning of our history, we human beings broke the harmony of paradise and began to live against our ultimate good. We once had a choice. We now have a near-compulsion—at least, that’s what we have without the grace of God to set us free. Over the centuries we humans have ironed in this near-compulsion, with the result that each new generation enters a world that has long ago lost its Eden, a world that is now half-ruined by the billions of bad choices and millions of old habits congealed into thousands of cultures across all the ages. In this world even saints discover, in exasperation, that whenever they want to do right “evil lies close at hand” (Romans 7:21). We are conceived and born in sin. This is a way of stating the doctrine of original sin, that is, that the corruption and guilt of our first parents have run right down the generations, tainting us all” (C. Plantinga Jr. Not The Way It’s Supposed to Be).
This sober and honest truth invites me to turn for hope to the God who restores. Reflect on these promises of restoration and talk to God about each of them.
Promises of restoration:
- “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten” (Joel 2:25)
- “In that day you will say: ‘I will praise you, O Lord. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me” (Isaiah 12:1)
- “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. ‘In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,’ says the LORD your Redeemer’” (Isaiah 54:7-8).
- “…weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5).
- “Again you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful” (Jeremiah 31:4).
- “You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy” (Psalm 30:11).
- “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16).
- “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).
- “But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (I John 2:1-2).
- “Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault” (Colossians 1:18-22).
- “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (II Corinthians 5:17-21, NLT).
“I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true” (Revelation 21:3-5, NLT).