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NOT WITHOUT RESTORATION
by Cheryl Bangs

I LOVE the idea and challenge of repurposing. Recently it has become quite a trend in our culture. It is the art of taking something that is in a broken state, or in a place of disrepair, and giving it a brand new purpose. Some of my favorite things are those that have been repurposed!

God is the best artist when it comes to repurposing!  He often creates a repurpose through the gift and promise of RESTORATION.  Merriam Webster defines restoration this way: “the act or process of returning something to its original condition.”  The word itself implies that something needs to be fixed or repaired; something has been broken, damaged, or lost.

The word “restoration” took on a new and deeper meaning for me a few years ago.  After my high school sweetheart and husband of 32 years died suddenly while we were vacationing in Hawaii, my entire world stood still. The life I had prayed for and enjoyed so immensely was forever altered. I felt lost and purposeless, but kept telling myself to believe­––believe what I had said I believed before the crisis: God is good, God is kind and God will be faithful.  Even though I was numb to my feelings, God wasn’t far away. In the early days I held on to the truths from God’s word that were already in me.  I was in no shape to grasp a new concept or new truth. The best I could do was just get through one day at a time.  By getting through one day at a time and continuing to cry out for God’s constant help, one day led to another, and then another, and the days led to weeks and the weeks led to years. Now it’s been almost 11 years!

I remember in one of my darkest times of grieving I was in a deep pit emotionally. I found myself crying out to God and asking “God, will you ever fix me?”  In my spirit He responded, “Cheryl, don’t you know me?  I don’t fix, I RESTORE!”  I began to research the difference between “fix” and “restore.” And as I did, hope began to rise!  You see, the Hebrew word for restore is “shelam.”  It means “to be made whole; to receive the reward; to be made secure; to be at peace within.”

The idea of “restoration” is found repeatedly in Scripture.
Let’s take a quick look.

2 Kings 5 – We read about the healing of Naaman “and his flesh was restored.”
Psalms 6:3 – David cries out, “How long, O Lord, until you restore me?”
Psalms 51 – David makes this request.  “Restore to me the joy of your salvation . . .”
John 9:6 – The man blind from birth healed by Jesus.  “So the man went and washed, and came back seeing!”

This week in our current message series we looked at the miracle of the man who had been blind since birth, and how Jesus restored his sight. The disciples were concerned with the “why?” of the circumstance and who had sinned to cause the blindness. Jesus shared so wonderfully that the blindness wasn’t a result of sin but so that He could do the work of His Father.

The disciples’ questions were somewhat like my own after the loss of my husband. Why me?  Why was this the plan?  Why, why, why?  My friend, sometimes it’s not because we’ve done anything wrong, or because God is correcting us. Sometimes it is so His works can be done for others to see and know His faithfulness, His goodness and His kindness through us.

About 3 years ago I was speaking at a Women’s Retreat. Several of my friends were at the retreat—many had walked with me in the darkest times.  I shared a part of my story, and in one of the messages I made this statement:  “I have found God to be good, kind and faithful to me, but I still don’t FEEL whole.”  The next morning at breakfast one of my dear friends said, “I was listening to a whole woman last night.”  I smiled and thought to myself, “You’re sweet, my friend, but you just don’t get it—you still have a husband.”  And I dismissed her comment.  But within a few days the Holy Spirit began to bring her words back to my mind.  Oh, how I love the gentle correction of the Holy Spirit!  As I pondered her words and why I was suddenly wrestling with them, God whispered, “Didn’t I promise to bring you RESTORATION?”  I knew His words were truth.  I had to ask myself if that was His promise, why did I not yet FEEL restored?  God began to show me that I was envisioning the wrong picture of restoration. I had in my mind what a WHOLE and FULL life looked like.  It was my past life.  And much of that life was exactly that . . . past!  As I began to allow God to guide me, He showed me that I had to change my mindset.  I could hang on to my ideal, or choose to surrender to the One whose ideas are far greater than mine, even though I might not understand.  We can choose to be the victor or the victim.  I had to partner with Him and change the wallpaper of my mind to embrace a new and RESTORED life.  In each of the Biblical stories I mentioned above, the men involved also had to partner with God.  Naaman had to wash in a dirty river.  David had to repent and ask for forgiveness.  The blind man had to wash in the pool of Siloam.  Our restoration process involves partnering with Him.

God is able to repair our broken lives. It doesn’t matter if our brokenness is a result of our own choices, or something done to us beyond our control, or something life has been allowed to hand us.  Your area of brokenness may be relational, financial, emotional, or physical, but I assure you His ability to restore covers every issue and situation. The key is will we partner with the miracle working power He is waiting to extend to us?

I can say I am WHOLE today. Oh, it looks different than what I wanted it to, but I am whole!  Here I am ten years and ten months into this “new normal”.  And yet again, I am in the process of repurposing something.  Early on I gave away most everything that belonged to my late husband.  However, recently I came across a stack of his t-shirts from places and organizations that were special to him.  This Christmas each of my six grandkids will receive a quilt I made from their Papa’s shirts.   At the time of his passing I only had three grandchildren, but now have six.  God’s blessings have continued to come, and I love that even though the last three grandchildren didn’t meet him personally, they will have something of their own from him.  We need to remember that sometimes the repurposed item becomes something that is priceless!

Let me encourage you today that even if your life doesn’t feel whole, even if your hands may feel empty and your heart may be crushed, hold on to His promise to RESTORE you—to make you whole. He may want to give you a new picture of wholeness, but I promise it will be a rich, satisfying and extraordinary life.

He is the best artist—a repurposed life is a great life!

 

PRAYER AND REFLECTION

Is there an area in your life that is in need of restoration?

Jesus had to rewire the blind man’s brain so he could see. I had to allow a new picture to develop in order to “see” a restored/repurposed life. Is there a picture that needs to shift for you or an area of your life that you need God to rewire for you?

How has this week’s message, group discussion and personal study time taken you to a newer understanding of God’s ability to work in our lives?