In mid-April I embarked on a new adventure in living a healthier lifestyle by eating better, restricting calories and exercising to lose more than 60 pounds. I am happy to say that I have lost 33 pounds so far and am feeling great. I’ve gone down a size or two in my clothing, but I really couldn’t see a difference when I looked in the mirror even though several people have commented that the weight loss is quite noticeable. This week I happened to look at a picture of me that was taken last year and all of a sudden I could see it quite clearly. It wasn’t until I looked back at where I started from that I could see just how far I’ve come.
The same principle applies to who I am as a person. I know I’ve changed over the years. I’m older and hopefully a little wiser. I’m also more confident and outgoing. This past week a pastor friend called to ask if I could help her with her upcoming sermon. She had a little skit prepared and needed another reader. Without hesitation, I happily agreed. I wasn’t nervous about it at all. In fact I was excited—like a kid waiting in line for an amusement park ride. I had such fun doing it too! At home later, after worship, I pulled out a mental picture of how this little adventure would have played out 30 or 15 or even 5 years ago and it instantly became clear how much I’ve changed. I’m unrecognizable when compared to who I was. Still I’ve never felt more comfortable with who I am.
Jesus is my Redeemer and Restorer. He paid the price for my sins to open the way to restoration. Restoration of our relationship and of the woman he had in mind when he created me. God tells Israel in Joel 2 that will restore to them the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust and Israel will praise God in gratitude. God then promises to pour out his Spirit on all his people—men and women, young and old. When I look at the two versions of me I see (who I was without Jesus and who I am with Jesus) I feel like that describes my life. Certainly my life before knowing Jesus was swarmed and destroyed by the locusts of this broken sinful world. As I try to take in all the Lord’s blessings, I can’t help but be overwhelmingly grateful for not only has he restored or made up for all that had been inflicted, taken or destroyed in my life, but has blessed me beyond my expectation or imagination.