Redeemed and Restored

It’s the time of year when most people reflect hard on the things they set out for last January. Some people gravitate to pondering achievements and whether or not they hit their task-driven goals. Others are drawn to reflect on relationships. Perhaps a season of friendship had ended, maybe a new one flourished, or for many, their year was marked by a deep loss. Still, others may have resolved to improve some relationships, the budget, or a mindset.

Reflecting with grace.

I’ve taken a good look at my and my family’s year these past few days and if I look at it from my own earthly perspective I see something much different than if I ask God for His. On my own, I see someone who started the year right off with terrible mistakes. I had poor coping skills and was hiding a lot of pain and anger with some destructive choices. I was seeking isolation at every chance. I see someone who wanted to run far away. I see someone who failed at things she never thought she would fail at. I see a woman who was reaching for help and healing in some wrong places and developing a lot of wrong attitudes. Someone who no longer wanted anything to do with hearing the voice of God. Someone who felt defeated, disqualified, disconnected and a bit disoriented. I also see her scrambling to keep her head above water, though no one would have ever known.

If we look with our own eyes, we don’t always see what we were saved from.

However, if I reflect on this year with God’s help, I see something so much different. I see someone who was so amazingly seen and known by a loving God. Like, CRAZY known! To a point where it simply blew my mind at times!  I see a woman who was plucked out of the miry clay and placed on a firm foundation again. I say “plucked out” because there’s no way I was pulling myself out on my own. I see God pouring love, wisdom, and teaching into my heart, while so gently removing deeply rooted hurts and habits. Some of which I didn’t realize existed.  I see my husband, pastors, my family, friends, and women from the Desens House Community who lifted me up and wouldn’t let me stay where I was. I see God’s hand on my shoulder during conversations that were absolutely gutting, yet incredibly hope-filled and necessary. I see myself grasping at the hem of Jesus’ garment, and reaching for more of it little by little to rise and stand face to face with Him again. I see promises being fulfilled, faith growing, chains being broken, and parts of my story being soldered together in Christ instead of stitched with frayed threads of my human effort!

God is not bound by time, which means, neither is my story when it’s given to Him.

A lot can happen in a year. It’s true and time is important. However, sometimes it’s really difficult to trust time and even more, to trust God’s time with us. To trust that God will do what He says He will do and what we know in our hearts He IS going to do! Sometimes when we’ve been desiring change in us, our situation or circumstances, and those we love, it’s a “long suffering” of sorts. We don’t know when the waiting will end. We don’t know how close we are to being on the other side of our difficulties. So we bear our burdens, pray, and wait patiently for God to call us out of our waiting, out of our “Egypt”.

Time refines our purpose.

Over the summer my brother gifted us a long farmhouse table. One of my visions for our home is that we have a large enough table to have space to make memories, take advantage of learning opportunities, have game nights, holidays, celebrations, hard talks, fancy dinners, homework, reading, stories, and so much more. I wanted to find the perfect chairs for it and I looked and waited for a long time. Finally, I got word that Second Chances received over a hundred dining chairs! These chairs sat in storage for 45 years! Set aside, empty, untouched, collecting dust and dirt. Now imagine each of these chairs being cracked, chipped, some with old price stickers adhered still. Some having a wobbly leg, stains on the fabric, peeling leather. None of them being perfect at first glance, and covered in layers of dust and dirt from waiting. I examined them, sat in them, felt them. At the end of the night I found 8 precious, perfectly imperfect chairs which look beautiful around our humble table.

Everyone has a seat at the table.

God invites us all to have a seat around the table. Sometimes, we feel like those old chairs. Dinged up, isolated, disqualified, weak, and a bit unsteady.  However, if we wait in obedience to be dusted off and pieced back together we can gain a new purpose. For His glory and at our best when we’re in community with others!  Just like the chairs, we each have seen our share of weathering, and I have plans to restore them, just as our Creator has with us. We don’t know where we’ll end up or who will join us but in the end, we are positioned, redeemed.

Practice makes… better.

I bet if the Israelites reflected on each year they were in the wilderness, some would see through their own eyes, remembering the mistakes and failures that led them there in the first place. However, I also think others would also remember to hold on to God’s perspective and promises. I wonder if the ones who remembered manna and quail were right there to encourage the ones who had forgotten. God may have sent them into the desert but not without promise and provision. They eventually saw their victory! 

May we all remember the goodness of God when we reflect on our year. May we also intentionally practice asking for God’s perspective in 2023. 

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11.
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10

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