Tearin’ Apart the House
Last year, my boys wore me out begging for a new game console. They desperately “needed” to upgrade from an XBox 360 to an XBox One. After negotiation, we figured out a plan, which included selling all of our old gaming equipment.
That weekend, we gathered all of our stuff and headed out to the local GameStop. It was a nightmare. Missing cords, scratched games, return trips home…but it was for my boys! Finally, we gathered everything we actually needed and headed back to the store.
On our initial trip, we received store credit of $90 for our supplies. Our final trips back and forth were to find the other items to get the other $90. When I showed up at the store, ready to purchase the new system, the original card with the credit was gone – not in my pockets, not in my car.
I returned home (again!) to find that card. I tore apart the house…upstairs and down, inside and out. Nothing.
It was gone…totally lost.
Lost things found.
This February and March, our church is reading the entire New Testament together. We’ve been challenged to read with “fresh eyes” – see things we’ve never seen or heard before.
A few days ago, I read Luke 15 with fresh eyes. In it, Jesus is at a dinner where he tells three stories about lost things – a sheep, a coin and a son. Unlike my story, all of them were found. I had a revelation.
These stories give a glimpse in how God restores people to Himself. Here are three ways God can restore.
Sometimes God is like a one-man search party.
In the first story, a man has 100 sheep, and loses one. He leaves the 99 to find that one missing sheep. The story is short, but it paints the picture of the 99 left in an open field. Which implies the shepherd going into the brush to find the one.
Sometimes God straps on his utility belt, grabs His flood light and tramps into the wilderness to restore us. There are no if, ands or buts…He will bring us back alive.
But not always…
Sometimes God like a woman in cleaning overdrive – sweeping away the dust and cobwebs in the corners of our lives.
Jesus shared about a woman who lost one of 10 silver coins. It’s assumed these coins represent her life savings, and she has lost 10% of it. She turns on all the lights, gets out the brooms and turns the house over. Mattresses are flipped, chairs are turned over, cabinets are emptied. She doesn’t stop until the coin is found.
Sometimes God will turn your life upside down. He does it for your restoration. Warning…it will feel like hell. However, it will end up like heaven.
But not always…
Sometimes God seems to do nothing.
The last story is one of the most famous Jesus ever told – the Prodigal Son. A man has two boys, and the younger demands his inheritance. The boy gets it, and he runs off…living like a wild man. Inevitably, he loses everything. The boy is driven to squalor, so he returns to his father hoping to be a slave.
The father gives all the son wants. Then he waits. He can only hope the boy returns – with or without his fortune. The father is waiting, but also watching. I have this mental picture of the father sitting on his porch swing – swinging, waiting and watching. When the son appears over the horizon, the father races to meet him, and gives full acceptance (No slave! He’s a son!)
Sometimes God just waits. He’s watching. But waiting for us to return back home.
But not always…
Two types of people.
Jesus spoke these stories to a diverse crowd. Some were church people. Others were definitely not.
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” -Luke 15:1-2
Church people (me) believe our story is the template for life. Non-church people don’t have a clue how God works, so He shows up in a thousand different ways. But when He does, it’s always to bring restoration.
So, here’s what I know.
God doesn’t want anyone to be lost – all of us need a story of restoration. God wants us to celebrate those who have been restored – no matter how it happens.
So if you’re discouraged, remember God is writing a story of restoration for you. Restoration will come. God may be searching and sweeping or waiting and watching. Don’t give up. Just keep waiting…the Father is scanning the horizon…restoration will come.