A plum-colored reupholstered velvet couch.
A creamy white repainted picture frame.
A refurbished cherry red 1969 Mustang.
What comes to mind when you hear the word “restoration”?
I’ve been asking that question a lot lately. Restore is the theme of this year’s Women of Joy tour. Alongside Angela Thomas, Angie Smith, Patsy Clairmont, Anita Renfroe, Candace Cameron Bure, Lysa Terkheurst, Jan Silvious, I’ve been wrestling with what it means to be restored.
Restoration is messy. Whether you’re mod-podging a canvas or reupholstering an old chair.
Often when we say God will restore us, we want that to mean…
God will erase the pain and suffering we’ve experienced
or that he’ll reimburse us for our losses
or that he’ll make everything “the way they used to be”
or “give us back our former life.”
Yet Biblical restoration isn’t about recovering our losses as much as recovering right relationship with God.
We orbit around God.
Jesus is our centerpiece, our focal point, our gravitational pull.
God’s restoration is a transformation of our character that enables us to better reflect the true image of God both to the world and back to him in worship.
When he restores us, he restores us to faithfulness, integrity, courage, truthfulness, goodness, kindness, temperance, wisdom, purity and discernment.
First Peter 5:10 encourages us:
“The God of all Grace, who called you to his eternal grace in Christ, after you have suffered awhile, will himself restore you strong, firm and steadfast.”
It would be nice say that God restores our lost days, our relationships, our broken pieces of a life, but this word “restore” does not biblically mean “return,” “bring back” or “refurbish.”
I think of Job. In the final swooping chapter of the book bearing his name, he abounds with children, livestock, and wealth. Job’s losses were returned. Right?
In some ways, they never were.
The children he lost were gone, gone, gone.
The flocks he owned were gone, gone, gone.
The wealth he had was gone, gone, gone, gone.
How do you look in the eyes of a father and say, “Look you have more children!” when he will never hold the firstborn who once bounced on his knee.
Restoration is messy.
In my life, the things that have been stripped from my body will never return. If I wait for those, or endure another half-dozen surgeries, what I receive will never, ever be the same.
Perhaps that makes me biased. But I believe we must nudge deeper into restoration—beyond surface repairs.
When God promises restoration, it’s for the formation of our character.
God’s desire is to form us more and more into the image of Christ, not to get us our houses, jobs, spouses, children and belongings back.
Now let me clarify: we are not called to comfort, but neither are we called to suffering.
Those who live by faith in Christ are called to eternal glory.
“A world where Christians can expect to suffer simply because of their faith in God is not a world as God created it. In the time and place of eternal glory, there will be no suffering, for God will put things right, eliminating the source.”
The word restore (katartistei), “is the idea that God ‘called you in Christ to his eternal glory.”
We are going to be restored unto God, not unto our human life on earth as we think life should be.
So perhaps the one thing we must do if we want to lay hold of the restoration God has for us is to stop looking back to…
the life we once knew…
the illusions we once clung to…
the false security we once enjoyed…
And begin looking up to…
the One who longs to embrace us tighter
the One who seeks to deeper our trust
the One who calls us to eternal glory
After all, the restoration of God takes place from the inside out rather than the outside in.
I can't wait to hug your neck.