I love to watch those restoration shows that take old homes and restore them to something good, beautiful and useful. The best restorations retain the good things from the past, re-purpose things that can be reused, ditch what is not usable and modernize without losing the character of the home. While all of this is costly, and takes more time and energy than taking the nuclear (tear-down and rebuild) option, I like that expert restorers retain the patina (character) of the home. I think God does the same with us.
In Isaiah 54 there is a beautiful song of restoration. It is God's declaration that he will restore, refine and revive His creation. God accomplishes this in several ways ...
1. He declares that His restoration will fix barrenness and brokenness (54:1). He tells the barren woman to sing because God will give her fruit and purpose.
2. He proclaims that His people should enlarge their tents (54:2). They are to open up their imagination to God's possibilities.
3. He tells the people that they will forget the shame of their youth (54:4). It is interesting that God assumes they have something to be ashamed about.
4. He affirms His Lordship as "God of the whole earth" (54:5).
Isaiah prophesied all of this at the center of spiritual poverty, national loss and world turmoil. That should 'ring a bell' with our time and situation.
Last Wednesday Dr. John Ed Mathison told about the great things God is doing in Africa, Asia and other places in the world. On the eve of Thanksgiving I want to ask a question ... "Do we believe God can do great things here?" My answer is YES!
You say, "we are too broken and we are marred with so many problems, deficiencies and sins." God says, "I will use all of it so that the patina of what I create in you will be unique, beautiful and productive." God's calling card is forgiveness.
You say, "we are small and too weak to do what is needed." God says, "Do not fear ... make your tents bigger because I will send you abundance and growth." God makes and executes big plans.
You say, "all of this is too costly ... it will take time, energy and effort and we are so busy!" God says, "This will happen by God's action, but we will need to change our behaviors, our priorities and our daily actions. Am I worth working for?" It will take hard work and our commitment for God's plan to happen here.
Restoration can be overwhelming unless you have someone who knows what to keep, what to throw away and how to use the patina (experiences, failures, lessons, scratches/dents, repairs) to make the unique and beautiful thing only God can create. Thankfully, we have someone who is the best at all of that ... "The Holy One of Israel, your Redeemer (54:5)." Now that is something worth being thankful for! Randy