Sunday, 31 January 2021

The Lord Restores ME (Psalm 23)

It struck me that God really does see every part of us and His desire is to restore all of it!  

Source: Praise Banners
I am currently reading through Psalms, not a place I thought I would end up in after the exhilaration of reading through Isaiah.  I was so challenged by that book and its prophecies that seem to be speaking directly to this generation. When I had finished, I asked the Lord what to read next and he said clearly read Psalms, you are going to need a time of comfort and encouragement.  So, today I would like to share something from one of the most well know Psalms, but something that spoke right into my spirit today. 

Psalm 23 (NLT Version) ‘The Lord is my Shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.  He renews my strength……’. Hold on I thought, don’t you mean soul (instead of ‘strength’), it should read soul!  It was then I noticed that there was a highlight by the word ‘strength’. It was at this point that the Lord stopped me and caused me to look a little deeper

For my 60th Birthday my husband bought me an NLT Bible complete with a wonderful concordance and a dictionary of some Hebrew and Greek words.  This is where the Lord led me; the Hebrew word for the NLT interpretation ‘strength’ is nepesh, which in Hebrew means – ‘soul - life, - self.  In fact, much of the immaterial part of a person similar to the spirit, which is also related to the inner person. But nepesh often has more connection to the physical life, including the seat of cravings and desires.  Often the word is simply an equivalent of the pronoun `my soul` or `me`.

I was really struck by the thought that God – Our Shepherd – not only restores my soul, the eternal part of ME but restores ME, every part of ME.  He restores the ME that only I see, He also wants to restore the ME that others get to see but I`m not aware of. He also wants to restore the ME that He alone sees, the me He wants to mature and perfect.  It struck me that God really does see every part of us and His desire is to restore all of it!   The trouble is that in Psalm 23 we get swept along with the image of the green meadows and peaceful streams and we fit `renews my soul` in with that image of calm. Sometimes it can be a calm process but at other times renewing of our soul, our ME can take us down a challenging, and often unwelcomed path. Things can happen that cause us to feel ill at ease, challenged or actually not in agreement at all with what`s going on for us!  We can sometimes feel anything but calm and frankly can question the Lord as to what is going on!

Source: Faith
Isaiah 45:9 puts it so well; ‘Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong’! Does the pot exclaim ‘how clumsy can you be’? In other words you are getting it all wrong, this shouldn’t be happening!!  Isaiah goes on to say; 45:10 `How terrible would it be if a new born baby said to its father ‘Why was I born?` or if it said to its mother “Why did you make me this way?’ And yet I know I have questioned may times what the Lord is doing, or maybe not liked the way I behave in situations, and asked the Lord why I am the way I am, instead of realising this was the way God created me to be and I am still a work in progress, still under restoration.  

If we want to restore something, say a piece of neglected furniture or paintwork, this can involve many processes.  Admittedly, the majority of the process will involve tender care, restorative products that enhance and build up whatever is being restored, time and patience to do each step carefully and perfectly till the beautiful finished product can be seen.  However, any experienced restorer will have to point out that before you can restore you often have to strip away, sand down, treat with harsh chemicals and sometimes trim off old and useless areas to allow the restored beauty of the finished item to shine through.  It`s at this point if a stage of the work is skimped on or missed then the finished product may not be perfect, not fully restored may even result in a patch up job.  Not desirable if you want to present a perfect item. However, the Lord wants to present us as perfect to the Father.   It is funny how we like to think of the Shepherd leading us to green pastures, letting us drink from quiet waters and us lying down protected in peace and serenity, without wanting to think of the journey over thorns thistles, hard climbs and low depths that we might have to traverse to get there.  The commentary on the Hebrew word nepesh mentions that the soul, the ME is also the seat of cravings and desires.  We all know that these can sometimes be at war with the Lord’s perfect plan for us and need to be perfected and restored too.

This prolonged time of Lockdown and social isolation has been a strain on all of us (even on those who by their nature like to be a little `set apart`). I have heard many people and some Christians say that they are really fed up now and wonder why something can`t be done to stop it all.  I really do understand this and empathise with those sentiments. It’s been a long hard journey for everyone, which has also had its normal everyday difficulties to deal with under extraordinary restrictions.  A little decision like ‘shall we get such and such fixed’ can be weighed down with lots of decisions and considerations about exposure, safety, and should we just try and wait till …………

But through it all for me, the Lord has taken this time to do lots of restoration of His own.  Only when the pressure is on does the real ME become exposed.  Sometimes I`m comfortable with the ME I see but other times I`m very uncomfortable with the ME that appears.  But amazingly I feel very encouraged in all of this because God has firmly promised that He renews my strength - He renews my soul – He restores ME.  And I feel that the extra time that the restrictions have given me, the Lord has provided plenty of restorative time to help me deal with all the stripping, sanding, treating, restoring and TLC He has poured out on ME.  I am sure that I am not alone in this, so many have had challenges to face, and mountains to climb, as well as quiet waters to sit by and green meadows to rest in.

So, what is the purpose of all this restoring, why is it so important that the Lord is so fervent in renewing and restoring our soul - our ME, even to the point of taking us through challenging times sometimes too? The answer lies in the second part of Psalm 23:3 `He guides me along `right` paths, bringing honour to His name’.  Here the little Hebrew dictionary kicks in again.  The Hebrew word for right is `tsedeq` meaning justice or righteousness.  This is a character quality of the Lord, flowing from his moral purity. God has lovingly revealed his standard in his word, and he desires it be dept as a matter of tsedeq’. 

The Lord wants us to develop in us His character to mature and perfect us, because we are to bring honour to His Name both on Earth in the way we represent Him to others, and in the heavenlies to the principalities and powers in the Heavenly realm.

So, the purpose of restoration is that my ME will be more like His HIM.  Jesus reminds us so well in John 16:33 the reason for why we need more of his HIM in our lives; I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me.  Here on Earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world’.

I know most of us know this, and I apologise if it sounds like I`m trying to bring something you already know, but the journey from the calm meadow and quiet waters of restoration to the understanding of the trial and difficulties of restoration and the purpose of perfecting my ME have been such a blessing I just felt I had to share.

Author: Jan Pearson

May God bless and enrich your life

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