I want to be a part of the restoration. To lose myself in endless projects, restoring what was broken and run down into something beautiful and useful once again. This is a dream that I’ve had for a long time, if I think about it. When I was young I thought that buying a big ole’ run-down house and restoring it would be such a wonderful adventure. Never-mind the fact that I have zero knowledge of how to fix up a home, and very little practice with anything related to carpentry or basic problem solving in a house restoration. The dream is still alive in my heart. How hard could it be?

I want to be a part of the restoration. This dream also includes restoring broken hearts and souls through the power of Jesus Christ. When I was young I began to realize that there is a world around me full of broken people in need of hope. It wouldn’t take me long to realize that the line of broken people was, indeed, endless, and I would be in it with all the other humans on this planet. But there was something inside of me that whispered, “they can be made whole again; we can all be made new and clean again, if we just reach out to the Healer”. How hard could it be?

I want to be a part of the restoration. I’m not much older yet, but I have had some time to realize the journey of restoration is long and hard. In my town there are lots of big ole’ run down houses, giving glimpses into an era long past, when the Erie Canal brought lots of activity and business to this little town, now dormant. What was once glorious and a symbol of success now stands in ruins, unless someone is able to come along and put in lots of time and money to restore the house to it’s former glory. I’ve lived here for just over two years and I’ve seen several properties cleaned up and worked on, and each time it brings joy to my heart. A little love, paint, weeding, and new windows goes a long way to brightening the vibe of a block. What I didn’t realize when I was young, I appreciate now:

Restoration takes a lot of investment.

It’s not a quick fix, a once-and-done, if you will. It takes hours and money and sweat and late nights and intentionality and more money and sleepless nights and even more brain power and YouTube tutorials and friends who help you paint when it’s 90 degrees.

I want to be a part of the restoration. What I’ve learned about the hard work of fixing up things is even more real when it comes to broken people. I myself am the chief of them, and with each year I realize a deeper need for the restoring grace of Jesus in my own heart. My time in ministry has shown me that all people, young and old, need love and intentionality and grace and so much time. We don’t get well overnight, and what is broken in a person often creates a sharp edge. Healing doesn’t happen smoothly or comfortably, and a lot of times the people who need me the most are the ones who leave scratches while I tend to their wounds. Do you know what I mean?

Restoration takes a lot of grace.

But isn’t that what makes it all worth while? The shine of a smile on a face that has known so many tears? The love of a heart that has been wounded in the past, but is learning what it means to be whole. The same grace that has been shown to me is something I can’t help but want to give away. I must learn to give it to myself, as Jesus gave it to me, and then also give it to those around me. Because we’re all broken, just like the big ole’ houses in my small, Erie Canal town. But we sure do have a lot of character.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
    that have been devastated for generations.

Isaiah 61:1-4 NIV

Will you join me in the restoration? It’s not going to be as pretty and easy going as I thought when I was an idealistic teenager. It’s going to require a lot of sweat and tears and muscle building tasks. It’s going to include hard conversations and having to say you’re sorry and taking the risk of being honest. It will probably include late nights and long years, too. But it will also include bright hope and fresh courage and new beginnings, as we learn to breathe deep the grace that Jesus so freely gives and intentionally give the love that comes right along with it. Because we all need grace, and my God is a God of restoration, no matter how long it takes.

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