Making the most of a New Year- December 31st, 2017
I woke this morning and had the most delicious time to myself while the family slept. It is the last day of 2017 and I had the urge to restore some things around the house that had needed it for a while but have been neglected in the busy months since moving this past summer. Our beautiful old Irish pine cabinets that hold clothes and toiletries had begun to look almost whitish with dryness. My 3 favorite white shirts had become discolored despite washing them on “hot” with bleach added to the wash. I had noticed all of these things happening but other things had taken priority – survival had taken priority – but this morning I found a quiet peaceful window where I could do anything I wanted; and my heart longed to bring these things back to their true nature.
After 18 years of marriage my husband didn’t think a thing as he roused his head and asked, “Do you need my help?”, “No” I replied, “I‘m just giving the dresser a good olive oil.” My white shirts were sitting in a bucket with a healthy dose of bleach to soak, and right before my eyes I could see the color and richness of grain returning to the dry pine boards. Nothing could have made me happier. It got me to thinking about how my whole life I have loved restoring things. The whole act of seeing something’s inherent beauty despite its present condition – and pouring your hard work and time into bringing it about again. All restoration projects are not as immediately gratifying as a good oiling on dry boards – some take years, as our purchase of Rivers and Roads will attest. But the very act of setting things right – bringing about their rightful dignity and beauty is something I just can’t help but want to do.
I have long thought this yearning is deeply set in the fact that I am made, we all are made, in the beautiful image of God, and yet live in a fallen world. Our boards get dry and withered, our paint chips, our cracks let things leak, sometimes things seem better left to the dump… but He never ever sees us like that… no matter what state we are in He sees our true beauty. As a follower of His you just can’t help but see those around you and things around you and not long to see them restored. This is because He longs to restore us, and everything else in His creation that has been tarnished and lost its true beauty. I feel the negative feelings towards Christians, and I cannot say I don’t understand them. So many imperfect people and organizations have done things in His name that do not represent Him and there is no greater tragedy. However, I also believe that though my beliefs may not be popular with some, that He deserves my whole allegiance and my adoration of Him – without shame – not just in the quiet of my heart but in my public persona and actions. HE does not deserve my fear of calling myself what I am – His follower – because of a cultural reputation that fallen people have created. So I wait for Him to give me strength to show my true allegiance and show it in the right ways. I know that the beauty and good we want to offer others through Rivers and Roads is a part of that, and a blog like this offers that opportunity as well.
Just last night on NPR they were doing a series of Ted Talks on beauty. Over and over designer and experts talked about the fact that beauty is not just something we see, but something we feel – and that it changes us. It makes people feel better, recover, heal. I couldn’t agree more but my mind had to take it one more step and accredit that healing power of beauty to the fact that it is the doing of an all loving all knowing Creator.
So, I invite you this New Year to test Him. To ask Him to reveal Himself to you in an undeniable way if He is real – so you won’t miss out on a relationship with the one who knows you best, who longs to restore all that has gone wrong, to use you to make things right with His help. Justice, rightness, truth, beauty, love – those are not manmade things but His very nature. Almost all people on the earth recognize those things as good and long for those things. Take time this new year to explore Restoration – restoration in yourself, the beauty in yourself, the beauty in what He can do through you. It is all a matter of taking time, deciding He is worthy of your whole heart, letting Him do the work, seeing His vision, His rightful place as head of our lives and world. We need to be an army taking back little by little what we can in this tarnished place. Take time to get out the oil and let it soak in – first in yourself – and then into others. Just see what a difference it can make.
Here’s to a year of Restoration; of seeing and restoring beauty through knowing Him. Happy New Year. And as always, “Life’s a journey- Journey Well.”