“He restores my soul.”
Last week we were glad to welcome to NCC a number of high school students as part of their school’s “service day”. They brought with them an enthusiam and readiness to put their hands to whatever we planned for them to do. And we had just the right project waiting for them. Painting! At our church lies an upstairs area that had been neglected for years. And there was one particular wall fashioned with a fairly large mural that we assumed would take a bit of extra effort to paint over. Well, after a strenous preparation process that included sanding and a few applictations of primer, the student were able to cause the mural to completely disappear as if it had never existed.
If you have been a Christian for a substantial length of time, you are undoubtedly acquainted with Psalm 23, the song of the loving shepherd. Few words bring greater comfort to the soul then the opening announcement, “The LORD is my shepherd. I shall not want.” It’s as if we can see King David folding his arms behind his head and fully resting in the suffiency and lovingkindness (hesed) of his God. David wanted for nothing. All he could ever want and need in life could be found in the hands of his Shepherd. And that was a tremendous source of reassurance. Because as with all of us, David would come to know that his greatest need was for his soul to be restored—-time and time and time again.
“Brings me back to repentance”
David, who himself did a bit of shepherding, reflects on the nature of his relationship with God through that lens. And what he would have been quite experienced in is recapturing sheep who have wandered from the fold. One commentator (Kidner) explains that the idea of “restoring” refers to the “rescue of a lost one”. Contained in David’s expression therefore is a sense of gratitude of how God time and time again is able to bring David back to repentance. It really is a beautiful statement expressing the power and grace of God to bring about a fresh beginning in our relationship with Him and with others.
Because we are prone to wander, our souls begin to resemble a dark-colored mural plastered permanently over our hearts. We may have even allowed ourselves to remain in such a state for an extended time, which has the effect of resigning us to the belief that our case is a hopeless one. Nevertheless, Christ in His infinite grace and forgiveness is able to apply the only primer strong enough to penetrate the hardness of heart due to sin. We are left with a blank canvas, as it were, where He is able to refine His image upon us. This is the great work of God in the life of individual Christians—in the lives of Christian marriages—in the life of the church. He never grows weak in His ability to bring about spiritual renewal.
Maybe you or someone you love has wandered in their heart from the Shepherd. Invite God to do a new work of restoration in that situation. As the old gospel spiritual reminds us,
“Nobody works like Him.”
Abiding In Him,