Friday, January 2, 2015

Love is Restorative

Sitting on a log, looking across a serene lake as a layer of mist fogs off of the surface, glistening mountains in the background, bible open to Romans 12, squirrels chippering about collecting nuts and seeds, the occasional fish making a splash as it leaps for the bugs.  I had just woke up from camping in Lassen Volcanic National Monument on a perfect morning and grabbed my bible and journal and took a hike around the nearby lake.  Everything so peaceful.  Trees fully grown and thriving with all sorts of nests hanging about and birds chirping; Lakes healthy and balanced with reeds maintaining healthy oxygen levels for the numerous fish; Animals walking around drinking: deer, elk, squirrels, probably the occasional bear and mountain lion.  It's amazing how God keeps it all in balance.  He creates every animal and plant with a specific purpose that works to benefit those around it.  The plant doesn't know its benefiting the animals with it's oxygen byproduct.  The animals don't know they are helping the forest by scavenging and dispersing seeds.  Even the weather doesn't know it's helping by starting fires, which in turn open pine cones that only open under extreme heat, and thus restart a new healthy and bio-diverse landscape.  Everything. Works. Together.

Do you ever have those moments?  Those moments where you can just pause, get away for a second, marvel at one of God's characteristics, pray, read...etc.  They always seem to leave a lasting impact.  And they are oh so necessary.  The disciples had all just gone out and spread Jesus' words and miracles to many people and had come back to tell Jesus all about it.  Right off the bat after they return, he says,

“Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.-- Mark 6:31-32

It is so important to just rest sometimes.  Get away from the crowds and the cities and the work and just rest.

It's funny, as I was sitting there resting, I thought about the history of the landscape.  Lassen Peak erupted on May 22, 1915.  It's been almost 100 years since that eruption.  Can you imagine what it must have looked like back then?  The destruction!  Ash was everywhere.  Trees were decimated.  Lakes were probably filled with ash and rock and mud and downed trees.  The area around the mountain, specifically the blast zone and the side of the mountain it erupted out on, were dead.  Completely and utterly dead.  And yet now it has grown back in most areas.  The ash is buried and long gone, and even the rocky molten sections are sprouting up trees and life.  Mt St Helens is a much more recent example.  The destruction was huge!  But now, 25 years later, grass and wildflowers and even pine trees are regrowing.  The lake is clean again.  It is restoring back to its original state. 

--yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands--Isaiah 49:15-16

Even when there has been a destructive eruption in our life.  Even when we are dead, even when we are in hard times, even when we think we are alone, God will not forget us.  He has a plan for all of us and he will not forget us.  He did not forget Noah where in Chapter 8 of Genesis, it starts off by saying, "But God remembered Noah...".  He did not forget Joseph and his family where in Chapter 50 of Genesis, it is written, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good...".  He did not forget David as Saul was chasing for him in 1 Samuel 23, "But God did not give him up into his hands".  He did not forget us, "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us".

All things are in God's hands.  He is in charge of the volcanic eruption and He is in charge of the restoration.  He can use the power and magnitude of hard times to bring wisdom and patience.  He can use a past of sin to bring redemption to many.  He can use death to bring life.  All things will eventually give glory to God.  He is greater than anything that might come against you.  It reminds me of the song by Mercy Me. Check it out...
"There will be days I lose the battle. Grace says that it doesn't matter, cause the cross already won the war. I am learning to run freely, understanding just how he sees me, and it makes me love Him more and more. Cause I hear a voice and he calls me redeemed when others say I'll never be enough, and greater is the one living inside of me, than he who is living in the world."  God is the redeemer, the restorer.  He will take the mud and rock and downed trees in your life and make you into an outstanding, picturesque landscape for everyone to see.  He will take the darkness in your life, shine His light into it, and use you to pour out His light into others darkness.  He remembers you.  You are written on his hand; The very same hand that was pierced and nailed to a cross to restore righteousness and life to all of our molten, muddy hearts.

So take heart in this new year and cling to God. No matter what happened in your life, no matter what went wrong in 2014, remember, this is a new year, a new start, a chance to be restored and let God take control of the direction of your life. I know as I go into this new year, after feeling a little dry from a lack of consistent bible reading and feeling overwhelmed with all that was going on in my life, I am going to get back into seeking God's word and praying more. And not to earn any salvation or to feel better about myself, but simply to bring life back into my heart and hopefully to those around me. I want to just get out more into "places" where I can just be alone with God so that he can restore my so oft weary soul. If that's the same for you or wherever else you might find yourself in this new year, just remember,

He will .... and is restoring you!!