Restoration

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Cross at sunset

By Tom Wiles | For The Times-Post

Come let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In such a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. — Hosea 6:1-11

There it was. The 1953 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster — the first year-ever Corvette.

Starting in mid-1953, only 300 of them were ever built (hand built) in Flint, MI. It was amazing to see. Many have been lost over the years and those that do exist need to be completely restored, sometimes starting with only the VIN tag.

Needless to say, it’s now an extremely rare and expensive classic with very few people capable of restoring them to its original beauty. Hopefully, next time, I’ll get to drive it!

As Hosea was writing to the people of Israel, he had a very different and far more significant restoration in view — the restoring of the collective soul of his people.

The repudiation of their covenant with God had left them an absolute disgrace. They were under God’s discipline and were nearing their complete collapse.

Hosea’s shouts of “Return to the Lord!” fell on deaf ears. Still, he pleaded for them to know him. He promised God’s healing and restoration if only they would turn from their wickedness.

One old hymn contains the foreboding and familiar lyric, “prone to wander Lord, I feel it.” God knows all about our wandering hearts.

It’s why he sent Jesus to rescue us. We are the lost sheep who have gone astray.

We don’t have to live in the wilderness of hopelessness, shame and woundedness. He invites us to himself in order to do life with him.

With Hosea, may we say, “O, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of the dawn.”

He alone restores souls.

It will be done

The day is near when I, the Lord, will judge all godless nations! As you have done to Israel, so it will be done to you. All your evil deeds will fall back upon your heads. — Obadiah 1:1-21

Once our children were old enough to begin to mentally process their behavior, our correctional conversations changed.

When they chose to exercise their will in a direction that was unacceptable, we would simply let them know that they had discovered a bad idea.

We encouraged them to think it through, “Why would feeding my baby sister raisins be a bad idea?”

If appropriate, we would have these conversations with the other siblings present. They could then be taught without speaking directly to them.

Obadiah the prophet wrote one of the one-hit wonders of the Bible, a book with only one chapter.

It was a word of God’s judgement upon a nation who brutally oppressed God’s people.

He was acting in keeping with his promise to his people that he would “bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.”

God’s message, although directed to someone else, reminded his people that he remains faithful to his promises even when they are not faithful to theirs.

Paul, in one of his letters to his protégé Timothy, reminds him, “If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.”

God’s faithfulness is simply a part of who he is.

When he makes a promise, it’s simply a done deal.

Our unfaithfulness does not inform or impact his faithfulness in any way.

When he promises to discipline, we can expect discipline.

When he promises to never leave nor forsake us, we can expect his presence.

What joy is ours, even in a world of fine print; Jesus is true always and forever.

Transforming truths

You made all the delicate inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. — Psalm 139:1-24

As we continue to embrace the wonder of grandparenthood, we are left nothing short of awed each time one of our daughters shows us the pictures of their little ones growing in their wombs.

Comments such as, “He has your nose” or “She’s grabbing her foot” are heard as we embrace such a marvelous mystery. Quick on the heels to those comments are questions related to their future. What kind of a personality do they have? What will they do when they grow up? God makes. We wonder.

As David considered the implications of what it meant for God to be God, the Holy Spirit flooded his heart with numerous core truths about God, about us and about the nature of the relationship between the two.

God knows. We are known.

God is present. We are never alone.

God creates. We are created.

God knits us together. We are unique in design and purpose.

God reveals. We respond. In this divine/human interplay, we experience his presence, his guidance and his strength.

The truths revealed in this Psalm are absolutely fundamental to a Biblical worldview. The devil, this world and the part of us that wants to be our own god pushes back on all of them.

David didn’t.

He embraced them and marveled at their implications. He couldn’t pretend that everything came from nothing. He was unable to live in a truth of his own imagination.

When all was said and considered, he simply cried out to God, “Lead me along the path of everlasting life.”

Pockets filled with holes

This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: “Look what’s happening to you! You have planted much but harvested little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes!” — Haggai 1:1-2:23

There have been seasons in our lives where we were just sure we would have enough resources to pay our bills, have clothes to wear, keep food on the table and put gas in the car only to run out of money before we ran out of the month.

We wearily struggled along hoping the next paycheck would arrive before the late fees.

On the other hand, we’ve known seasons where we knew we were in trouble only to experience an unexpected provision at just the right time.

What’s that all about?

I’m not totally sure about all our ups and downs, but the two leaders of God’s people, Zerubbabel and Jeshua, were told by God’s prophet Haggai exactly what that was all about when it came to God’s people.

They were living large in big fine houses while the focus of worship, the temple, was left in ruins.

They planted much, but reaped little. They ate and drank, but were still hungry and thirsty. They had clothes, but were still cold. “Get to work!”, God told these leaders and they did.

Confused priorities are not an ancient problem.

We choose exactly what’s most important to us every moment of every day. Our mouths can say anything, but what we really believe will be revealed by what we do. Who or what gets our time? Who or what gets our energy? Who or what gets our resources?

If we dared to track the usage of our time, energy and resources for just one week, what would we discover about our hearts?

Tom Wiles is senior minister of Fall Creek Christian Church in Pendleton. He can be reached at 765-778-3166.

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