December 8, 2018

Restoration is not always about getting my stuff back

Already a grandmother, we moved to Saskatchewan because my husband had work there. The location was near a well-known Bible college so I decided to sign up. The work was challenging but in less than three years, I had a bachelor’s degree in religious studies.

Besides writing research papers, students were assigned to various service projects. One of mine involved speaking at a senior’s residence. I used the following Scripture passage:

“I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame. You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God and there is none else. And my people shall never again be put to shame.” (Joel 2:25–27)

People in Saskatchewan know the destructive power of grasshoppers. On one occasion, they were so thick that driving was almost impossible. What many of the folks in this nursing home didn’t know was how this promise of God in the OT applied to us today.

For Israel, the destruction may have been literal, but for those aging people, the years had robbed them of many things; health, family, meaningful work, and joy. They were a sad group, until they learned what the word “restore” means. It comes from a root word meaning completion and fulfillment — of entering a state of wholeness and unity, even a restored relationship — and is almost the same as ‘shalom’ — a very well-known Hebrew greeting of ‘peace be on you.’

I don’t remember exactly how I presented this promise, but I do remember seeing their faces relax into smiles. God was telling them that even though they suffered great losses, He would take care of them. Whatever they had gone through or were going through, they needed that reminder.

Today, this passage has another vivid illustration. My sister had a home, a business, did incredible art work, and became well-known in the city she lives in. In a few short years, she sold her business, her husband died, she sold her house, allowing her family to purge her belongings, including her well-stocked art studio and moved into a senior’s residence.

Is she happy? She has nothing of her life except 4-5 paintings and her clothing, but she is content, joyful, a blessing to those around her and a living example of God giving peace to His people even if all they once enjoyed is gone.

In my thinking, moving from here to heaven will be something like that. The past will be forgotten as I enter eternity with Jesus. All that I gained or lost here will not matter, even be forgotten. Like my sister, I will be content, happy and not even thinking about it.

Jesus, this promise goes beyond the physical to what You do for Your people as we wait on You. Our lives suffer losses and enjoy gains, but when You put our focus on Your grace, mercy and power, the rest of it has no significance. For that, I am grateful!

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