The Gift Of Restoration
By Rich Carmicheal
The Lord has a purpose and a plan for your life. He wants you to know Him, to experience fullness of life in Him and to bring glory to Him. And He wants to work through your life to minister to others. If you are presently walking in close fellowship with Him and enjoying fruitful ministry, then praise the Lord and continue on! If not, however, I want to encourage you not to lose heart in your present situation. If you are experiencing a time of difficulty, barrenness, weakness, or even sin, there is hope. Your greatest days of fellowship and ministry may be those yet to come.
This is true because of the Lord’s gift of restoration. Consider, for example, the restoration of the Apostle Peter. Following his three denials of knowing Christ, he must have thought his service for Christ was over. How devastated he had to have been when, after the third denial, the Lord turned and looked at him. Peter’s response reveals the depth of his sorrow over his failure: "…he went out and wept bitterly" (Luke 22:62).
How tragic it would be if Peter’s story ended there. However, the Lord extended His forgiveness and grace toward Peter. He knew beforehand that Peter would fail under difficult testing, and He had already prepared the way for Peter’s restoration. He had shared these words with Peter before the denials: "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers" (Luke 22:31-32). What a wonderful Lord and Savior! Knowing that Peter was about to fail miserably, He prayed in advance for Peter and looked forward to Peter’s restoration and future service.
Then, after His Resurrection, Jesus took time to personally restore Peter to fellowship and ministry (John 21:15-19). Three times He asked Peter about his love for the Lord. And three times Peter humbly acknowledged that the Lord knew all things including the love that Peter had for him. In this context of humility and love, the Lord entrusted to Peter the ministry of shepherding His people.
Peter was, of course, a changed person. He had discovered through the denials that he did not have the resources in himself to follow and serve Christ. How empty he must have felt. But then, imagine the joy he experienced when the Holy Spirit was poured out, filling him and empowering his life and ministry! His brokenness had prepared him to receive and walk in the Spirit’s fullness.
Another example of the hope for restoration and the ministry that can flow out of restoration is the life of David. Although he was a man after God’s own heart, he fell into terrible sin, committing adultery and then lying and arranging for murder to attempt to cover up his sin. He was devastated when he realized the depth of his transgressions and openly confessed and cried out to the Lord for forgiveness and cleansing. Listen to a portion of his prayer in Psalm 51: "Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, let the bones which You have broken rejoice…Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit" (vv. 7-12).ry that would flow out of his restoration: "Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You…Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, that my mouth may declare Your praise" (vv. 13-15). David knew that God’s forgiveness and grace toward him would prepare him to share God’s love and righteousness with others.
Even as the Apostle Peter was broken and humbled before the Lord following his denial of Christ, so David recognized that the "sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken spirit and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise" (vs. 17). Their lives illustrate the importance of spiritual brokenness. The Lord can do great work in and through us when we come to the point of realizing that we fall short of His glory and need His grace and power in order to be or to do anything that is truly good. As we come to the end of ourselves and begin to genuinely seek the grace and goodness of the Lord, then He can fill us with His life and do His good work through us. And He can use for His glory the character, the perseverance, the humility, the patience and the compassion that we have learned through the difficult times.
Are you in the midst of a difficult time even now, wondering if you will ever again enjoy close fellowship with the Lord and fruitful service unto Him and others? Perhaps you have brought troubles upon yourself, or perhaps other people or hardships are to blame. In any event, the Lord is able to restore those who turn to Him and who place their hope and trust in Him. Confess your need before Him and reconsecrate yourself unto Him. Ask Him to cleanse you, to fill you with His presence and power, and to restore you to fellowship and ministry. The road may not be easy, but God’s grace is sufficient. And as His life and strength begin to work in you and through you, He will be glorified.
"…God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you…And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you" (1 Pet. 5:5-7,10).