We can all identify with what the Psalmist wrote about God leading him beside still waters and restoring his soul (Psalm 23:2-3).
But restoration is not just a matter of a vacation by the quiet sea; it’s what we need from the moment we enter the world. It’s our deepest need.
To be restored is to return to its original or usable and functioning condition or to regenerate: return to life; get or give new life or energy.
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 God finished His work of Creation, He “looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!” (Genesis 1:31). But it’s quite obvious that something has gone terribly wrong in the story of humanity. Something or someone vandalized God’s good creation. And we all know it.
We feel it deeply
Most people feel like something is missing from their lives. We have moments when life feels whole, full and satisfying, but these moments easily give way to a sense that we are not what we’re supposed to be. The truth is that 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.
The words that describe humanity as lost, wayward, drifting and restless are all fitting terms for our condition even if they hurt our egos. These are ways of describing what we deeply feel when we’re most sober and honest.
Fallen and without peace
The words of Scripture resonate with clarity and reality: “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.
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 why we 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.
This is reality on the planet originally given to be our very good home. We’ve turned it into chaos. We’ve turned from our Creator to do things under our own rule. How true are the words of Isaiah, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way” (Isaiah 53:6).
Rescued and Restored
Gratefully our Creator became our Redeemer. He did not leave us to our self-made ruin. As we celebrate the coming of our Savior and Redeemer during this time of year, reflect on the backdrop of his self-giving mission.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. …. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1-4,14, NIV).
Give thanks that God our Father “so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17, NIV).
“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 5:19-21, NLT).
Because of what our Creator has done for us, we can anticipate final restoration:
“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).