I see a junky piece of furniture that I wouldn’t drag home to store cat food, even if I had a cat. “Mia” looks at the same item, pauses, looks at the item again from another angle, and smiles. She sees possibilities, even after I roll my eyes and move on. It’s not that one of us is wrong. It’s simply that one of us is hungry to bring beauty (and perhaps resale!) from this sad, hopeless item. And the other of us would rather go shopping.
When it comes to life restoration, I am happy to share that Christ uses the same lens as Mia.
One of my favorite biblical passages about restoration is Joel 2:25-26:
And I will restore or replace for you the years that the locust has eaten–the hopping locust, the stripping locust, My great army which I sent among you. And 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 be put to shame. (Joel 2:25-26 AMP)
The truth? Literal locusts are not my problem. But life has given the man and I a bit of a battering around for awhile now. It’s so easy to be disgusted, angry, and confused. And we are those things. And we act on them impulsively sometimes. So we need to be reminded that God is in the business of restoration. The “locusts” have eaten some of our time, our energy, our confidence, and our hope, as well as things of tangible value. What a timely reminder that we shall “eat in plenty and be satisfied.” That He has dealt with us “wondrously” and we will not be put to shame. I’ll be honest. Things don’t feel very wondrous. But I’m trusting. Because I believe in His big picture that I can’t see. Just like I couldn’t see the fabulous outcome of the sad-looking bureau that Mia dragged home until she had completed the restoration. Would I have thought it as beautiful if I hadn’t first seen its ragged, hopeless condition?
Mia’s final product often looks better than it did even in original condition. I expect God’s restoration is just like that.
In my opinion, hands down, the best restoration story is that of Peter and Jesus in John chapter 21. The scene is the shore of the Sea of Galilee where the disciples have fished all night without a catch. Early the following morning, they are still in their boat when a voice calls from shore, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” They did. And they were unable to haul in the net due to the large catch. Then they recognize their Lord. This miracle is amazing and moving. Although their haul of fish after many fruitless hours is a restoration in itself, it isn’t this one that makes my eyes shine with tears.
That happens a few verses later when Jesus cooks some of the newly-caught fish for their breakfast. Following the meal, the Risen Christ looks into the eyes of Peter and asks him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Peter answers that he does and Jesus tells him to “feed my lambs.” Jesus asks him a second time, Peter responds the same and Jesus again tells him to care for his sheep. Jesus asks Peter the same question a third time. Peter is hurt and says, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” I believe it took Peter a few moments, perhaps longer, to recognize the incredible moment of his own restoration. Three times Peter denied Jesus on the night He was crucified.Three times Jesus asks Peter the question. Peter is asked publicly. The denials were public. Jesus ensures a complete restoration for this one He loves.
This is the story of Peter. It is also the story of me. And of you. Grace, mercy, and renewal. God is good all the time.