Restore (Lent #39)

restoreIt’s cliché, but true.  It’s easier to tear down than to build up.  Much easier to destroy than restore.

It true of buildings and places , and it’s true of people and relationships.

Perhaps that’s why there is so much destruction in this world.  It’s the easier thing to do.  Repair.  Rebuild.  Create.  These represent the harder path, the one that takes more time and energy and commitment.

At least that’s been my experience.

With a word, spoken in a quick rush, I can tear down my children and wife.  With just a glance or a snicker I can damage a friend’s self-confidence and sense of self.  In a moment of anger or frustration, I can demolish trust and hope and joy.

How long does it take for restoration after these destructive bursts?  In some cases a lifetime.

And yet, God is a restorer.  Reaching across the chasm for us.  Pursuing us.  Inviting us back into relationship even when we continue to tear away and tear down and tear apart.

This work is most evident in Jesus, but it’s all throughout the scriptures.  God renewing the covenant.  God reminding the people they are loved.  God rescuing and providing and protecting.

One of my favorite stories is what it looks like when the people model this behavior and become like God in their pursuit of restoration.

Do you know the story of Nehemiah encouraging the people to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem?

Nehemiah tells the people…

We can do this.

We are in this together.

Stand in the gap.

God is with us.

Did they face opposition?  Yes.  Was it hard and dangerous?  Certainly.  Did they have fears and doubts and concerns? Again, yes.

But to be a restorer is to accept difficulty and challenge.  Anything less is to give ourselves over to a pursuit of “cheap grace“.  A grace that ignores the place of sacrifice in the life of a believer, a grace that is all “feel good”, a grace that discounts or ignores the person and work of Jesus Christ.

To restore is hard work.

But it’s also God work.  And I want to be about the work of God.  I want to be smack dab in the middle of what God is up to.  I may not like it at times.  I may run and hide for a bit.  I may need a reminder and a gentle prod, but I want to be a restorer.  I want the words of Isaiah to include me.

Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. (Isaiah 58:12; or the larger context of restoration here)

We can repair the broken walls.  We can restore relationships.  We can rebuild lives.  The questions is, will we join God in doing so?

Life is better together,
Shawn

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