“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (1 Peter 5:10)
I walked into my friend’s large auto shop, and on the floor, near the drive-in sized roll-up door, were countless rusty and corroded parts. Barely discernible in the middle of all these parts, was the large rusty frame of an old farm tractor. My friend, who loves to restore such antiques, stood by it with an oily wrench in his hands and broad smile on his face.
That afternoon he told me all about this tractor. He proudly told me how he and a friend had spotted the old tractor in a field as they were driving along a highway. They contacted the owner of the property, an old farmer, and he was more than happy to get rid of it. He took a small sum for it, kind of shaking his head and wondering why on Earth anyone would ever want to buy such a broken down piece of machinery.
The longer my friend talked that afternoon the more enthusiastic he became. We visited for a while, and then I wished him luck on his tractor restoration project and headed home.
About two years later, as he and I were talking and catching up, I asked him about that old tractor. He beamed with pride and pulled up a series of pictures on his computer showing the entire restoration process. The result was amazing!
There it was in the final picture, fully restored, just like it rolled off of the factory floor back in 1948. I could hardly believe the complete transformation that I was looking at.
Every detail, every part, all the internal gears, wires, pistons, the countless thousands of parts we don’t see, but are critical, had been lovingly, and sometimes abrasively worked on, to restore them to a new condition. He shared that there were times when the project hit some rough patches, and the going got tough, but through it all, he kept at it.
The entire process was also very costly. There is nothing cheap about restoring an old tractor. Yet once the work was done and the bills were paid, one could hardly argue with the complete transformation that was shown in the pictures. And I know the transformation was complete, inside and out, because he showed me pictures of the tractor being driven in a parade. This was not simply a cosmetic restoration.
The term “restore” is mentioned over a hundred times in the Scriptures. Most dictionaries define restoration as “a return of something to a former, original, normal, or unimpaired condition.”
In the grand scheme of life, the Scriptures are all about restoration, humanity’s restoration to a right relationship with our Creator. We are restored via Jesus Christ, who in effect “paid our restoration bill.” His restoration is complete, from the inside out, there is nothing cosmetic about the work that Jesus does. Ultimately, even our physical bodies will one day be restored to the mint condition our Creator envisioned. (I could use a little of that right now…but I’ll have to be patient.)
In the meantime, I am reminded of how important it is that that I too have a mind of restoration.
The Psalmist shared: “Restore us again, God our Savior…” (Psalm 85:4) Thankfully we worship a God of new days, a God that seeks to restore us to himself with an infinite degree of patience. There are times I have to go back for multiple restorations. I have to be restored again, and again, and again. (Thankfully God never closes the garage door.)
Those closest to us are also undergoing restoration. There are times I need to remember how much grace God has given me every time I show up at the garage for another round of restoration. I need to give that same compassion and grace towards others while they are being restored. After all, restoration is a process, sometimes it takes years to get the rust off of all the parts. Some of the parts that need restoration lie deep within our lives; they’re the hardest to reach.
Yet Jesus promises us, that for those who trust Him, there will be full restoration. As believers, we need to be like Jesus. I know it’s hard, but we need to be patient, not only with others, but patient with ourselves.
By the way, you have permission to have setbacks during your restoration; they happen. God will ALWAYS be present with you as you are seeking restoration, no matter what it is in your life that needs to be restored. I can tell you from personal experience that the wait is worth it.
Not all restorations are equal. Some restorations involve our closest relationships, those with our spouse or children. Restorations can range from recognizing our need for eternal restoration with God through Jesus Christ, to the more mundane, such as restoring a relationship with a child or family member that perhaps we were short with, or perhaps we said some words that came spilling out in a moment of frustration.
In extreme cases, where major restoration is underway, we may feel completely overwhelmed, the circumstances of life may seem like this restoration is beyond anything that God could ever fix. During these deepest darkest moments, we may want to give up, but that would be human thinking at play.
The Psalmist wrote the following, because he realized that no matter how hard the journey, that if God was involved, then restoration would happen! ”Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.” (Psalm 71:20)
The Apostle Paul reminded us later that restoration comes only when we surrender. It is in our weakness that we are restored and not in our own strength. Jesus shared that “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
I encourage you to never give up on God no matter how hard or hopeless your restoration project may seem, God seeks to see us restored!