There’s a world of difference between restoring something and buying something new. I once received a wonderful birthday gift of a brand-new Pitt Minion NIV Bible bound in goatskin leather. It’s a treasure I hope to enjoy for the rest of my life.
But a while back, a friend of mine who is a pastor brought his favorite old preaching Bible to a specialist for restoration. Rather than throwing it out and buying a new one, he took the Bible to a shop that would carefully return the well-worn book to fine condition. They mended its torn pages, replaced its worn cover, strengthened its loose bindings, and so forth, with the goal of restoring its intended beauty and usefulness. It makes me think of a line that occurs three times in Psalm 80:
Restore us, O God;
let your face shine, that we may be saved. (vv. 3, 7, 19 NRSV)
No one wants to restore trash. However, when something is old and worn but still valuable, a loving owner wants to restore it. Asaph, the writer of Psalm 80, wants God to bring restoration to his people. He wants God’s gracious favor to shine on them so that they might be saved—made whole and holy.
I believe God does this by giving us a truer vision of himself that inspires and energizes our lives and brings us the restoration he intends for us to experience.
Restoration in Good Soil
Later in the Psalm 80, Asaph makes this statement:
You brought a vine out of Egypt;
you drove out the nations and planted it.
You cleared the ground for it;
it took deep root and filled the land.
The mountains were covered with its shade,
the mighty cedars with its branches;
it sent out its branches to the sea,
and its shoots to the River. (vv. 8–11 NRSV)
Just as God brought his people Israel out of Egypt and planted them in a good land, part of his restoring work in us involves planting us in a good place and tending our lives so that we might become more fruitful. He wants our lives to bless more and more people.
I find a prayer rising up within me in response:
Jesus, grant that I might become more and more fully, deeply, and solely rooted in you for my life and my work. May I be enabled to resist the draw of every false vine that makes big, empty promises to me. Show me how to bring my thirsty roots to you and you alone. May I be so filled that even a trickle of living water flowing from me becomes a torrent. I cannot do this on my own. You can do this in and through me. It is what I want. Amen!