I’m not old (yet), but my left hip doesn’t care. I thought he was my friend. He’s been with me all my life, supported me through thick and thin (well, mostly thick), and never raised a complaint. What changed? Why did he turn on me a couple years ago? How did he shift from being so stable to painfully unpredictable and unreliable? I don’t know what went wonky, just that my left hip has suddenly decided not to play nice anymore.
My doctor’s response when I visited him about my sore knee took me aback. I never expected him to immediately say, “Well, how’s your hip?” Sure, “shin bone connected to the knee bone, knee bone connected to the thigh bone, and all that jazz,” but really? Most days my hips are fine, can’t we just deal with the knee and get on with life?! What I thought would be a simple diagnosis has since turned into myriad doctor visits, lengthy exams using fancy machines, weeks of (barely successful) physical therapy, and a surgery that’s scheduled for not too far in the future. Until then, I guess it’s safe to say my left hip is winning this round.
When I think of restoration, I can’t help but think of getting my left hip repaired soon. My body’s never been through anything like this, but I’m no stranger to the process. I’m well on the other side of growing up in a divorced home and wondering what my own home and family life would amount to one day. I know the pain of losing a job, a friendship, a dream, a loved one—and still coming through stronger on the other side. I’m also intimately familiar with having my hardened heart changed from the inside out by the gracious, redemptive, love of Christ. What needs to happen to my left hip so I can experience beauty in restoration isn’t something I want, but it’s definitely something I long for.
In my limited life experience, restoration can’t be rushed, must be healing, should be complete, won’t be easy, and will be good. This process takes time and a lot out of me. Fortunately, the real work is on God’s shoulders not mine. My job is simply to cooperate in the rehab—or better yet, to stick with my sanctifying adventure—one renewing day at a time.
I love the imagery of Jesus the Good Shepherd in John 10, especially verse 10: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
Oddly enough, this passage reminds me that while I’m drawn toward “abundance”—or life to the full—I all too often seek out “steal, kill, and destroy.” As much as I’m not old, I’m even more imperfect. I’d like to say I have more “shepherd days” than “thief days” as time goes on, but I’m not so sure. Fortunately (yes, fortunately), I have some ruthlessly honest family and friends that keep me in check each step of the way. Life in all its fullness isn’t something I’m experiencing completely, but I’m grateful its taking root more often.
Today, my left hip is playing the thief. It’s no different from me being sabotaged by sin or some reckless relationship. Whether it’s my doing or not, I must do something about it. I can ignore or fight what’s true, but that won’t change my pain. The only way for me to rediscover beauty in restoration is to lean on my Good Shepherd and follow his lead. Will it be scary? Yes. Do I need to be afraid? No. I can trust that there’s hope on the other side of this. Why? because God who’s been faithful to restore before promises to do it again—potentially for my left hip and certainly for us all (if you don’t believe me, reread Revelation 21:1-5).
My wife, sons, and I love a good “snack plate”—a random spread of deli meats, cheeses, fancy crackers, exotic (or not-so-exotic) fruits, vegetables, assorted olives, dips, and even some fine chocolate. When our kids were young, we didn’t go all “Charcuterie & Cheese Board” (we might have if we had heard of it!). Instead, we’d slather peanut butter on celery and fill the rest of the plate with whatever else was leftover in our fridge and pantry! There’s something satisfying (and beautiful) about making a meal by simply restoring what’s laying around.
For too many years I paid zero attention to my soul’s health. Taking regular doses of John 10 and Psalm 23 has helped change that. I can’t offer a better prescription than playing the video below to start and end your day at least once a week.
“Restore My Soul” by Mosaic Church (Winter Garden, Florida – http://thisismosaic.org)
Written by Zack Olsen & Seth Kaye
My Lord, my Shepherd. Restore my soul. I will follow you in the way of peace. Amen.
There’s beauty in restoration all around: road construction, rainfall, applying (or removing) make-up, vacuuming, rebooting a laptop (or a friendship), forgiving an offense, taking a nap, eating lunch—the list is endless. This week, go out of your way to notice what’s being renewed in the world. Then, whenever and wherever you stumble upon it, let God know you agree that it’s good.
Beauty in Restoration | Dan Lovaglia