“And You make things new,
You will right what is wrong.
Healing flows from You,
And restoration is Your song.”
The theme of restoration has been an important one for me, even before I was old enough to know what to call it. My childhood years, although full of fond memories and wonderful experiences, were marked by divorce, death, financial hardship, church separation, and family troubles. I remember the joy of childhood, memories like a warm blanket that keeps me cozy, and I remember the pain of each of those darker moments, the cold that causes my skin to chill as I pull the blanket of memories tighter around me. But perhaps the most remarkable thing I remember is the feeling that God hadn’t had the last word; that, despite the circumstances and the finality of some of them, He could still make things better.
… I’m still a believer.
There’s nothing particularly magical about restoration. Actually, it’s probably the most arduous, consuming, excruciating, dirty, pedestrian thing you can participate in, but I hold firmly to the belief that restoration is what we’re supposed to be about.
restoration: noun: the act or process of returning something to its original condition by repairing it, cleaning it, etc.
: the act of bringing back something that existed before
: the act of returning something that was stolen or taken
There’s probably an entire book waiting to be explored just in these few definitions of the word, but for the sake of brevity I’ll distill my thoughts and give you two main points:
- The work of restoration gets ugly
The nasty truth is that, in restoration, things may will get uglier before they get beautiful. If the intention is to return something to its original condition, then the repair that will be necessary will no doubt get messy. The cleaning that might be required could get really painful, scrubbing and scouring and sanding just to get to ground zero so that the rebuilding can take place. When we hear the word restoration, often we think of the beauty of the finished product. Not many people want to look behind the curtain of the process that produces the beauty. But if you want to be a restorer, mark my words: things will not be beautiful for a while, and you have to be okay with that in order to get to the beauty.
- Jesus was Restoration Incarnate
Jesus’ life was marked by restoration. He ate dinner with the corrupt; he spent time with prostitutes and crooks, with women and children, with the sick and the disenfranchised. He walked toward those who had only seen the backs of others for so long. Jesus was scandalous in His love and with His tenderness, sowing seeds of hope and beauty where decay had once thrived. He wrecked preconceptions and stirred the proverbial pot, but He made things better wherever he went. “Better” rarely meant safe, and “better” wasn’t pretty. But “better” ways always good, because He is good. He didn’t just bring restoration; He was– He is–restoration.
To direct my thoughts into present day, there’s a lot about the social climate of our country that makes me angry. It breaks my heart and causes me to have a good cry more often than I’d care to have. There are plenty of friends and family who I talk with, commiserate with, and disagree with about it all. Injustice toward any person, or any group of people, creates a fire in me, and I have to be careful not to let that fire become a wild one because that helps exactly zero of the time. But is it possible that with the proper perspective, this fire might actually be a holy one? I think so.
I don’t know about you, but I want to be someone who isn’t afraid to run into the messes, in my own life or in my friends’ and neighbors’ lives, because the only way for restoration to take place, the only way for the beautiful finish, is to get our hands dirty in the process. I want to be marked by the sweat of labor, by the grit of dirt under my nails, and by sawdust-covered floors that denote a work is being done. What would happen if we weren’t afraid of the messes, weren’t afraid to go looking for the most fertile ground for astonishing beauty to grow?
I am a restorer. God, I pray it’s true of me! And I believe if you follow Jesus, too, then we are to follow Him in restoration. So could we? Oh, how I want it to be so! I want us to breathe life into the stagnant. I want us to “do justice” in our community, and by our presence I hope that those who are in need will be refreshed and cared for. I want us to be extensions for the healing that flows from Christ; healing for physical needs, for strained relationships, for broken marriages, for systemic oppression; for the ones who are on the fringes; for the spiritually dead. I want us to embrace those who may squirm out of our arms and run away. I want us to love scandalously and live with a graciousness that makes people uncomfortable, because we believe that safety is overrated and that His goodness is unparalleled.
Just as the song lyrics above say, I believe that restoration is the song that Jesus sings. It’s the life that he lived and spilled out wherever he went. It’s the promise of what is to come and what is happening right now.
And if restoration is His song, then I believe it should be ours as well.
Candi is a singer/songwriter, author, and homeschool-teaching-mom/wife/friend/cupcake baker extraordinaire. She and her husband Jonathan are the founders of a nonprofit called Sycamore Abbey, with a mission to bring ministry leaders back to life and equip them to encourage vitality where they lead. She is a woman seeking to find the extraordinary in the everyday. Learn more at candipearsonshelton.wordpress.com, or follow her on Twitter @CandiPShelton.