Several years ago, we experienced a crash in the housing market. It was the perfect storm or rising interest rates, a sluggish economy, and low cost construction. I remember my friend’s neighborhood most vividly. As you drove through it, there were many incomplete houses in varying stages of construction scattered throughout. For years they sat there incomplete. They were a constant reminder of the recession we were in.
As I drive through, I couldn’t help but think how each of those houses represented someone’s broken dream and unfulfilled plan. People had gone through the process of buying a lot, designing a house, choosing elevations, selecting tile, picking out paint colors, and imagining what it was going to be like. Now it sat there incomplete with no hope of fulfilling its purpose. Where others saw incomplete houses, I saw unfulfilled dreams.
I’ve always imagined that you and I were a lot like houses under construction. God has a great blueprint for each one of us that He’s designed specifically based on who He created us to be. Unfortunately, many of us feel incomplete and that God has stopped working on us or in us. The truth is that God is always at work in our lives trying to help us fulfill our calling. No matter what mistakes we make, God doesn’t walk away from the construction site or leave a house unfinished.
Philippians 2:-13 says, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (NLT). God has not given up on what He started in your life. He hadn’t walked away from you, leaving you like an abandoned construction site. He is still working in you, helping you and putting the desire in you to want to fulfill your purpose. You are still under construction and God still has an amazing blueprint for your life. He will complete what He started in you.
Several years ago, my father in law was about to undergo surgery. To make sure he could handle it, the doctors gave him a stress test for his heart. He failed. They immediately called for an ambulance and sent him to the hospital. When they took a look at his heart, they found several blocked arteries and performed a bypass surgery. The doctor informed us of how serious it was, but assured us that he was better now.
Over and over I’m asked why we as Christians are allowed to endure hardships. I believe that part of it is that we are still under the consequences of Adam’s sin. If only sinners went through hard times, got sick, or died young then people would not choose God based on love. They would follow Him out of fear, and that’s not what God desires. So it rains on the just and the unjust alike.
Another part of the answer is so we can see what’s inside of us. God already knows, but just like that stress test revealed my father in law’s heart condition, difficult times often reveal what’s inside of us. It proves what we really believe, and also shows any weaknesses we need to correct. Going through difficult times gives us a chance to truly walk out our faith so we can know how much we really trust God.
The great news is that we aren’t left in the stressful situation. Psalm 71:20 says, “You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth” (NLT). Like my father in law’s surgeon, God is in the restoration business. He corrects and removes the things that hold us back so we can serve Him better. He brings us back up, out of the depths, so we can share with others the faith we discovered in the hardship.
Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
One of the things I love about our car is when you get low on gas, not only does it notify you, the navigation screen automatically shows you where all the gas stations are. If I keep going, the alarm will continue to let me know every few miles that it’s time to fill up. So far I haven’t run out of gas in it. That’s a good thing because I know what it’s like to run out of gas and to have to do the walk of shame to the gas station.
What about you? Have you ever run out of gas? Have you ever run out of gas spiritually? Again, I’m guilt of that too. I’ve let myself run out gas spiritually and I’ve stalled. There were warnings that I over looked and things that I did that caused me to run out. One of the first things I quit doing was reading the Bible daily. It was more of a box to check off for me at the time and I saw it as a chore. When I quit reading my Bible, my faith took a hit.
Romans tells us that faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of God. I increase my faith by putting God’s Word in me. I wasn’t doing that, and I quickly found out that I was susceptible to attacks. It turns out that faith is also our shield that helps protect us against the fiery darts of the devil. I then began to slip in areas I had never had trouble in. I started to go places and to do things that I never dreamed I would have.
After that, I noticed that my church attendance began to slip. “I wasn’t getting anything out of it,” I would say. I wasn’t getting anything out of it because I wasn’t trying to. I wasn’t listening because I didn’t want to be convicted of the things I was doing. I didn’t want to be questioned by people at church when I did go, so I started leaving as soon as the pastor ended his sermons. I cut myself off from the community of believers.
Hebrews 10 tells us not to forsake the assembling of fellow believers. I looked up “forsake” and dictionary.com said, “to quit or leave entirely.” Because I did it, I know why the writer said we shouldn’t. I left a group of people who loved me, prayed for me and lifted me up when I needed it. Church is more than just a group of believers going to hear a message. It’s a place where we connect and find a sense of belonging.
After I left, it didn’t take long before I ran out of gas. When I couldn’t move forward in my life anymore, I decided to take that walk to the altar. The good news is that this walk isn’t a walk of shame. It’s a walk of rejoicing because God comes in, fills us with His love and restores us to a right relationship with Him. If you’re on empty today, you might have made the same mistakes I did. The good news is that He’s waiting to fill you up again and to restore your life. He did it for me and my church accepted me back with open arms. There’s no shame in walking home.
Being a father of a boy with toys means that I have to always have superglue on hand. I can’t tell you how many times he’s handed me toys that were broken in pieces. With tears in his eyes, “Can you fix this please?” Sometimes I can do it, and other times I have to tell him that it’s beyond my ability to repair. He doesn’t understand why there are some things that are just too broken and superglue just won’t work.
Like him, many times we have to take the broken pieces of our lives to God and ask Him to fix it. I don’t know if God has some kind of spiritual superglue or what, but I do know that He’s pretty good at taking our broken pieces and putting them back together again. In fact, there’s no life so broken that it’s beyond His ability to repair. He specializes in putting our shattered pieces back together and making our life better than it was. We just have to be willing to hand Him the pieces.
Here are some Bible verses on God repairing our broken pieces and making us whole again.
1. GOD made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him. When I got my act together, he gave me a fresh start. Now I’m alert to GOD ’s ways; I don’t take God for granted. Every day I review the ways he works; I try not to miss a trick. I feel put back together, and I’m watching my step. GOD rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.
Psalm 18:20-24 MSG
2. He heals the broken-hearted and bandages their wounds.
Psalm 147:3 GNT
3. A Message from Israel’s GOD -of-the-Angel-Armies: “When I’ve turned everything around and brought my people back, the old expressions will be heard on the streets: ‘ GOD bless you!’… ‘O True Home!’… ‘O Holy Mountain!’ All Judah’s people, whether in town or country, will get along just fine with each other. I’ll refresh tired bodies; I’ll restore tired souls.”
Jeremiah 31:23-25 MSG
4. But because of our sins he was wounded, beaten because of the evil we did. We are healed by the punishment he suffered, made whole by the blows he received.
Isaiah 53:5 GNT
5. For a child has been born—for us! the gift of a son—for us! He’ll take over the running of the world. His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness. His ruling authority will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings.
Isaiah 9:6 MSG
If you’ve ever restored anything, you know the rewarding experience it is. There’s something about taking something that is outdated, worn out and unusable and restoring it to its former glory. I’ve done it with furniture and also with cars. Once that project is restored, not only does it serve a purpose again, often it us worth more than it was before it needed restoration. Yes, it does take some work, but in the end, it’s always worth it.
I’m so glad that God is in the restoration business. What we do with cars and other objects, God does with lives. He takes people who are broken, worn out and unusable and brings them back to life. When He’s done, those lives are more valuable because if the work He’s done. They have experienced the rebuild process and have come back from places where they thought restoration was impossible.
The Psalmist understood that there is no life or nation that is beyond God’s restorative power and ability. In Psalm 85:4, they wrote this prayer, “Now restore us again, O God of our salvation” (NLT). Israel had disobeyed God and had experienced the effects of that. They knew that even though they had moved away from their purpose and had become unusable, God could restore them. They cried out to God and He was faithful to do it.
You may think you’ve gone beyond God’s ability to restore your life, but I’m here to tell you that you’re not. God wants to restore you and rebuild you. He wants to bring value back to your life and to make you useful for His purposes. You simply need to pray like the Psalmist and allow God to do the work. If He can restore my life, He can restore yours.
Years ago I knew a man who made his living on dumpster diving. During the day, and often at night, he would drive around looking in dumpsters for things people had thrown away. He would then take them home, repair them, refinish them, and then sell them. He had an eye for breathing life into things that had been discarded, and he wasn’t too proud to go into dumpsters to get those things.
He reminded me of the gardener that Jesus told a parable about in Luke 13:6-9. The master had purchased a fig tree, and year after year, he had come to it to get figs. After a few years, he became upset. He told the gardener to chop it down because it was a waste of soil space. But the gardener replied, “Leave it alone, sir, just one more year; I will dig around it and put in some fertilizer. Then if the tree bears figs next year, so much the better; if not, then you can have it cut down’” (GNT).
Out the gardener and my friend had an ability to see potential where others saw none. They both understood that it would take work to bring about restoration, but they were both willing to do it. It makes me question how I see people. Am I like the gardener or the master? Am I looking for the potential in others, or my self? Or am I quick to discard them as useless? I think if we truly looked in the mirror, most of us are like the master, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
When I was a kid there was a song about an auction. At this auction the auctioneer held up on old, dusty broken looking violin. He asked who would give him a dollar for it. Then a man walked up, dusted it off, tuned it, and began to play. When he finished playing, the auction asked, “One give me one thousand. Who’ll make it two?” The people asked what made the change, and he answered, “It was the tough of the master’s hand.” There’s no one that God can’t touch, repair, use and increase their value to others.