Restore and Renew

Day 8 of Lent, Psalm 14:

Aww- time to be restored. Many people I know are on their “Spring Break” or on a long needed vacation. I imagine we are all hoping to be refreshed or restored — ready to go for another round, right? You may be familiar the following verse from the famous Psalm that says, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”  In it, it says, “He restores my soul.”  He restores.  It sounds very refreshing and peaceful — and I love this verse. Yet, if you have every been in the process of restoring something (a piece of furniture, a car, or a house), it is usually anything but nice and peaceful. It usually does not go exactly as planned and takes a lot of hard and difficult work.

When I was young, my mom acquired a small table from our friends who lived in a very old home in St. Joseph, Missouri. My mother, with an eye for decorating, painted it white for my newly wallpapered Holly Hobbie room. (For those of you who do not know about Holly Hobby, she is a sweet girl like Strawberry Shortcake, and dressed in a bonnet and calico dress.) I treasured my “new” table.  Sometimes the table displayed my dollhouse nicely, and other times I changed things up — placing books and small objects on it. As I grew older, it was used for a desk or as a stand for my dual-cassette stereo, with turntable and speakers.

The work of restoration

Eventually, after college I moved to Austin and decided to haul my table with me. I asked my dad if he would help me restore the table to its original state before I left.  I wanted it to look a little more grown up, and not like a little girl’s white table. Little did we know that we were in for some major work. There was not only thick white paint on it, but also a blue waxy paint underneath it. I don’t know how may hours it took or how many different products we used to try and remove all of that paint. If I had really known how difficult the process was going to be, I possibly would not have tackled it. I probably would have gone straight to the store and bought a can of spray paint; and be done with it!

One thing my dad demonstrated in the process was patience and hard work. It was difficult and labor intensive work — working each evening side-by-side.  But through the process, I learned a little bit about restoring furniture; how to wait long enough for the paint to bubble up to remove it, and how handy steel wool is for removing paint in little crevices. One of the last phases before applying the stain was sanding it.  Again, my dad emphasized patience and skill.  I learned about the different grades of sandpaper and the importance of using my hand and not just my eyes to examine the sanding process. Sometimes our eyes can be misleading.  We cannot always see how the restoration is going. I began to slowly discover that even the tedious, difficult and grueling work can be worth it.

Hope in restoration

Why would I endure this difficult process of restoring the table? I had hope that there was something beautiful underneath.  Finally, we did get to the wood and soon we knew this table had stories to tell. It was beautiful, even with the indentations, the burnt scar mark and the missing fold-down, side leaves. It was crafted with possibly two kinds of wood — with, now, very old wood.  This table had lived in the attic of that old home (which was from the 1800’s, by the way) — sitting quietly covered with dust and old books, the keeper of their stories for many years.  My table from St. Joe, probably heard stories about the civil war, Jesse James, and the Pony Express (my Missouri friends understand). Many years later, little girls would run through the house and up the staircase to that dusty attic, and play hide-and-seek, giving more stories for the table’s collection.

Restore to beautiful

I wanted to restore this table to what I thought was its original state. No, this table was not the same table, it was even better than I expected– even more beautiful. Along with it, came a rich history and experience.  It was not restored to what I thought was the original, but to something much better than I dreamed.

Restore and Renew

As I read the following verse today:

Oh, that the salvation would come out of Zion! When the Lord restores His captive people, Jacob will rejoice, Israel will be glad. Psalm 14:7

I once again thought about the word “restore.”  I still like this word, but it has a newer and richer meaning to me now. God is in the process of restoring things.  He restores and renews. This gives me hope through the mundane and difficult.

I know that this process began in me, the process of beginning to restore me, when I met Christ and discovered His lovingkindness. The process continues, but it is also full of hardships and difficulties that I would rather by-pass. Could I just have a can of spray paint please? It can feel like those difficulties indicate that things are not right. If I were doing “better,” then it would not feel so hard. Much of this though, is a “sanding” process, much like the sanding done on my table.  Restoration can be difficult, but it is a process of restoring me, smoothing out the rough edges, and making me like Christ.

I am thankful that there is hope in the process– hope that there is something beautiful in store.  One day all things will be completely restored. I image though, the restoration I am waiting for– will be better than I ever hoped or dreamed.  Oh, the stories we will tell– stories recounting hardships and faithfulness. The scars may or may not be there still, but if they are, they will be beautiful.  Christ’s hands and feet still carry His scars, but they are the scars of love and redemption. As I feel the work of restoration going on in my life, may I remember the something beautiful is going on.

By the way, now this table sits in my “game” room supporting the TV– not as interesting or exciting, as Jesse James stories– but now it has stories from a whole new age.

God restores.  Remembering this, is to see the beauty in things.