A while back, when I was a volunteer at a ministry, I was faced with the need to take a step back from serving the church in order to allow some sanctifying and healing work to be done in my life. I was going through an extremely low season that led to my making poor choices left and right. Consequently, my pastor at that time recommended that I step down from my serving position to go through a “year of restoration.”
If I were to go back, I would have asked him to clarify what a “year of restoration” actually entailed. To me, it sounded like time-out, a probationary period where I held the responsibility to earn my “good girl” status again. And although this pastor most definitely did not intend it to be so, this placed me on a year’s journey of attempting to rebuild my life through my own striving. During that season, I did anything I could to fix myself, and I definitely failed. If anything, the attempt just left me more burnt out and jaded.
Most Christians desire to be holy in character and pure in heart. Most would desire to be in good standing with the church community and their pastors. Yet, once the choice to repent is made, one still faces the challenge of rebuilding what’s been broken. This part can be hard.
Restoration is work. But, it’s important to know that it’s God’s work.
The Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32 needed restoration as well. Although he made the choice to repent and return to his father’s home, he knew that a mess was made and he no longer deserved his former life.
But, it was the father who ran to him from a distance. It was the father who restored his life, his name, his status. In just a moment, his father did it all.
If you hunger for restoration in your life, it must begin with this revelation first: your restoration was already paid for. There is nothing to “make up” or “work for.” It is done. The cross is proof that you are rightly restored in Christ.
Oftentimes, we resort to striving, hiding, or rebelling when faced with the heavy burden of having to change. This is why whenever we do not see progress within ourselves, it’s tempting to give up trying in the first place. It’s exhausting when you try to be whole when you’re already so broken inside.
That’s why, after genuine repentance, one must begin the process of restoration with the revelation of grace—which is that restoration is given to you, not earned by you.
Now, this is not to deny that there are aftereffects of your season of fallenness that need healing and rebuilding. For the Prodigal Son, although his provision and name were restored in an instant, he needed to amend his relationship with his older brother. Trust surely had to be rebuilt within the household. But, this process of working on the aftereffects must always, always begin with the revelation that you are already fully forgiven, fully loved, and fully covered by the Father.
All the choices you make after repentance must be in line with this revelation of grace. The heart of your choices must be to be in relationship with the Father, not to perform for the Father.
For the Prodigal Son, he made a choice to go to the Father, receive from the Father, and remain with the Father.
He chose to go to the Father by heading towards His home, despite the low expectation of what the Father would actually be willing to do for him. In fact, there is no such thing as an insufficient amount of faith when it comes to restoration. Even if you have the slightest bit of faith, it’s enough. The son thought that perhaps there was enough grace to just be allowed to reside in the servant’s home. However, even such little faith was enough.
He also chose to receive from the Father. When the embrace came, he took it. When the celebration was given unto him, he received it. When the forgiveness was given unto him, he believed it. Sometimes, choosing to receive is in and of itself a powerful choice.
Lastly, he also chose to remain with the Father. For as far as we can tell from the parable, the son chose to remain in the home, and, in the end, restoration was the fruit of his relationship with Him. Meaning, if you have repented, remain in that repentance. Remain in obedience with Him. Remain close to His Words.
I have four beautiful children who are absolutely helpless without me. I once asked my son to wash his face because remnants of his dinner plate were smeared all over it. I had to send him back to the bathroom at least 3 times before I actually went in there with him to help him do it correctly. He just couldn’t do it properly by himself. So, even though he and the rest of my children are helpless, they are guaranteed to be okay because they are in my house. They receive my help. They believe my words. They hear me, and they obey… well, most of the time.
Restoration is the Father’s work, but you must choose to live under the Father’s roof.
But, the door is open for you, always. And the moment you take that turn away from your mess and towards His house of grace, you will see that the work that needs to be done to fix you isn’t nearly as big as His love that is willing to restore you.
“Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.” (Psalm 71:20)