Speaking of restoration, I read on someone's facebook status that this is the year of re--... I have no idea what he or she meant by it, but it stuck out to me because our spring conferences for InterVarsity in our area are called Restore and Release. We just had our Restore conference this past weekend at Dickinson College. We were given an hour of silence time for personal reflection at the conference in which I really thought a lot about my own restoration. I wanted to pray for the Millersville students, my LVC friends, and other things, but I had to keep reminding myself that I needed to focus on my own restoration during this hour rather than others. I know it may sound selfish, but I thought of a quote of Thomas Drier that says, "You cannot add to the peace and good will of the world if you fail to create an atmosphere of harmony and love right where you live and work." After going to Urbana and getting all fired up about restoring God's kingdom around the world, it was very fitting to have a conference where we focused on our own restoration because that needs to happen first. It occurred to me that I cannot expect to go out and restore the world if I do not first let God restore me.
Betsy talked last night at our IV meeting about the Hebrew people being enslaved in Egypt before the exodus. They had been slaves there for 400 years so generations had not known what it was like to worship God. They had been in the Egyptian culture for so long, so when Moses asks them to trust God as He freed them, the Hebrew people don't really want to. Even after they're free and wandering in the desert, they're mad at Moses because they would rather have stayed slaves. That's all they knew. But how ridiculous to want to be slaves when God is offering freedom! Betsy compared this to the gods that we worship in our culture, such as image, success, or addictions. It's sick to think that we would experience Stockholm Syndrome to the culture that tries to enslave us and start thinking positively towards these captors when we could be free from these things in Christ. Why do we think it's easier to remain slaves?
When I reflected a few weeks ago about how I see God, the first thing I thought of was a friend of mine who had been enslaved by an eating disorder. She struggled for a long time with it, but one day, she was free. God set her free! I'm not saying it wasn't a process--that it's just easy. But she experienced freedom that only comes from God. And THAT is who my God is. My God gives FREEDOM! Jesus came that we might have life, that we could have a drink of living water that will satisfy us forever.
It isn't easy. You can create boundaries, rules, a 10 step plan... but ultimately, it has to come from God. In Exodus, God explains that He is going to harden Pharaoh's heart so that everyone will know that it is He who rescues the Hebrews from bondage. It wasn't Moses, and it wasn't Pharaoh being nice. God likes being the one who saves us. If our 10 step plan works to restore us, then it's ourselves and that plan that rescues us instead of God getting the glory for the rescue.
Restoration is a process as we struggle and try to hear what God is saying, but in the end, we can give God all the glory because He alone sets us free. I praise God that, actually, every year is the year of re--. But for me, this year in particular demands much needed restoration. In my life, in my family, on campus at Millersville. I crave it. God will never stop restoring what's been lost. That is the one thing I am sure of.