Restoration is a term we use often. We restore lots of things such as old houses, furniture, and cars. When we work to restore something, we often have to strip away the old paint and sand it down as we keep the original framework. When we are finished, we hope our product looks brand new. I remember seeing an episode of Fixer Upper where a couple in Waco chose this very old house to restore. They had other houses to choose from but they chose this one in particular. They, along with Chip and Joanna Gains, saw potential in it when no one else did. I remember thinking, how in the world will they ever turn this place around!? They obviously started with stripping away the old paint and rotting boards but they kept almost the entire original framework of the house. By the end of the episode when Chip and Joanna worked their magic, the house looked brand new. I have seen many episodes of Fixer Upper but this episode was the most surprising since the house was in such an unlivable condition before.
According to Merriam Webster, the definition of restoration is, “a bringing back to a former position or condition.” Much like we work to restore something from years of neglect, God also works to restore our hearts when we have seasons where we feel forsaken and forgotten. We may have built up layers of bitterness and heartache, but if we let Him, He starts to strip it all away. It may be a long and painful process but when He is finished, we are restored. We still keep our original framework that God created in us before the bitterness and heartache set in and he restores us back to our former position. A place where we were close to Him and where we drew strength from Him. You see friend, He was always there. He never left. We were the ones that distanced ourselves from Him. We let life get in the way and instead of turning to Him, we started to let things like our prayer life and Bible reading slip slowly away. We stopped attending church because we lost connection or just wasn't “feeling it” anymore. Maybe we were even hurt by someone in the church so we stopped attending. Whatever the reason, we let our spiritual life slip into disrepair. But the most beautiful part of all of this is, God never left your side. All you have to do is ask Him to restore you. He is patiently waiting to start the restoration process. Many people are too scared to start this process because they think they are too far gone. Like the house in that episode, we see ourselves as too lost to restore. But if a house that is unlivable in can become a place for a family to live and grow in, so can we become a place for God’s presence to dwell in again. We are never too far gone. Other people are too scared to face their mistakes and prefer to keep ignoring them because facing them is too painful. While others simply don’t want to be restored because it will be too much work to give up the sinful things they have grown to love. The process of restoration may be painful and sacrificial but what is gained in the end is a newness like you have never experienced before.
I am often reminded of restoration in the book of Ruth. For obvious reasons when people teach from the book of Ruth, it is usually about Ruth. However, one character that I often think gets looked over, is Naomi. Naomi lost her two sons and husband. I honestly don’t blame her for becoming bitter and changing her name to Mara which means, bitterness or sorrow. When she returned to Bethlehem where she used to live she told people that, “the Almighty has made me very bitter. I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty.” (Ruth 1:20-21) As you follow Naomi in the story you start to see God work in her life and show her favor. She sent her daughter-n-law Ruth out to gather grain and Ruth came back with an abundant amount thanks to Boaz. Ruth continued to gather grain until the barley and wheat harvests were finished (2:23) in this way God provided for them. But, He was not finished with Naomi. If you know the story eventually Ruth and Boaz marry and have a son. At the end of the book Naomi becomes this baby’s nanny. God had restored her. A woman commented that Naomi was blessed by the Lord and God had provided for her (4:14). In the entire book of Ruth the name Mara was only mentioned once by Naomi. Even though she wanted her name changed, the author of the book never changed her name and always referred to her as Naomi. Naomi means pleasantness.
Oh how we serve a wonderful God! He restores us and turns our bitterness back to pleasantness. He gives us even greater blessings in the process. When we are restored we do not lose our original foundation. He simply adds more to us and makes our hearts not only livable, but a place where we can flourish in Him. Let Him restore you today friend. What are you waiting for? He has not forsaken you. He is waiting for you with open arms.