From Where I Stand: Restoration

December 31, 2020 | Church | Jay Wintermeyer

Our world feels irreparably broken. My friends talk about it, I hear of it in the news, and I read about it in social media. I believe this breaking apart is predicted by Scripture. At the same time, I find myself longing for encouragement and hope in the face of societal breakdown. 

Recently, I found myself turning to Isaiah. The words of this ancient prophet are just as urgent, current and necessary for today as they were millennia ago. Right now, I need both lament and hope, both naming what is and holding out for what will be.

Isaiah 58:11–12 is a passage I enjoy reading in different translations and paraphrases. I am particularly drawn to the way The Message paraphrases the passage:

"I will always show you where to go. I'll give you a full life in the emptiest of places — firm muscles, strong bones. You'll be like a well-watered garden, a gurgling spring that never runs dry. You'll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past. You'll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community livable again." 

The line "you'll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew" brings me to my knees and raises my head at the same time.

In many ways the world and the church feel like old rubble. The old foundations have crumbled. I have been deeply, deeply grieved by the choices, behaviors, language and posture of people who claim the name "Christian." In particular, I feel as if I am standing in the rubble of the church’s witness.

Other translations of this passage say, "You shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in." There is a breach, a gap between what we are called to be and who we are right now.

Today, I sense a renewed invitation to be a repairer, to be a restorer. As 2021 begins, this is a work that’s heavy on my heart. In order to restore something damaged, one must pull out everything that is rotten and damaged. That’s where God’s promise is so powerful and encouraging to me in this moment. 

If I let Him, God is willing to fully repair and restore my heart and my life. I can’t change your heart or mind. (My job isn’t that of the Holy Spirit.) What I can do is be open to let God continue rebuilding the brokenness in my heart. Some of the most beautiful things are those once most broken.