He restores my soul. Ps 23:3
Yesterday I went for yet another trip to the doctor’s office to have a lab test performed. I had to fast and for some reason my chemistry was off by the time I got to the doctor’s office. I felt lousy. I sat there blearily in the waiting room listening to a man with gaps in his teeth who told me he was a bipolar extrovert, and proceeded to relate his life’s story to me.
As I was listening to him, and then chatting with the lab techs later, it was one of those times I felt ineffective. I couldn’t think of anything to say. It was like life was rolling over me and I wanted to participate in the process and make a difference somehow, but I felt small and feeble.
But then I started feeling better. I was restored! Maybe it was the test. They injected me with synthetic ACTH, which stimulated my cortisol production. Steroids do give you more energy!
And as I went back out to the waiting room, the restoration experience continued. There was a woman there with her adult daughter who was developmentally disabled. I began to converse with them, and the conversation transformed the whole waiting room. The daughter was talking about how she couldn’t wait for the upcoming Auburn football game, and she showed us with her hands curled how Auburn was going to pounce on Texas A&M. As I looked around, I saw smiles of enjoyment on people who had been lost in their phones or staring into space.
It is so true, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Everyone has a place and a purpose. This young woman with the mind of a child was powerful in her own way. She could make others smile, and forget their protective bubbles. We were actually having a good time in the waiting room!
And then when I went back to the lab to give yet another sample of blood, I was able to follow up with one of the techs about checking out the Columbus Bible talk, and she wants to try it. Things came together. I felt like my soul was restored. Later in the day I shared my faith in the grocery store. I am not where I want to be yet, but I have been given what I need to soldier on.
This past weekend was restorative as well. I was at a marriage retreat at Callaway Gardens. My romance with my husband was strengthened. I felt renewed as I walked through the beautiful garden estate and finally slowed down enough to appreciate the details of the beauty of creation, the astounding patterns and colors on a butterfly wing.
We all have been restored in so many ways. My last blog was on redemption. Focusing on this has been one of the most refreshing, heart changing times for me. Here is one of my latest favorite passages:
At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3)
The thing about Titus is that it doesn’t just describe the restorative grace of God, it stresses what our response to the redemption should be: “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” Titus also says, “And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good.”
Being restored means that we are given to bounteously, so we in turn give to others. Typical of the Spirit, I have heard this theme time and time again recently. Anne Brigitte told us at the marriage seminar that we need to focus on how God has treated us, and use this as a motivation to treat our husbands better. She said God has a right to be angry with us. But he chooses to forgive us. Grace is not conditional, so neither can we be.
I also read a passage in a book called “True Community: The Biblical Practice of Koinonia” by Jerry Bridges that convicted me. He said, “Our gifts are not our property to use as we please; they are a trust committed to us by God to use for others and for His glory as He directs.” Bridges cited a couple of verses that opened my eyes to this in a way I hadn’t seen before.
- “A spiritual gift (the manifestation of the Spirit) is given to each of us for the common good.” I Cor 12:7
- “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (I Peter 4:10)
God restores our souls. He refreshes us. He rains down blessings from heaven upon us. He surrounds us with his beauty. He gives us what we need at just the right time, like manna to sustain us. Just when we think the world is bleak and we have failed, he puts a bright shining light of answered prayer in our life, the embodiment of His grace.
As I went outside with Ken this morning to exercise and I saw the glistening of so many stars in the clear dark sky of autumn, more stars than I have seen perhaps all year, I thought about how God’s mercies are like this. He encourages us with something new and lovely every day. It brought to mind the classic hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Morning by morning new mercies I see. May this last verse of that hymn resonate with you, as it has with me:
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own great presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!