If you have ever watched those car or house restoration shows, you’ve seen those restorers who look at an old heap and see potential where everyone else can only see failure. Praise God the He is the Master Restorer Who can look at any broken life and still see potential not just for redemption but also for usefulness.
The reasons and events that lead a person to ruin are many and when someone falls, the world despises them and sees no hope of restoration. If the one fallen is anyone of status, the world (and by “world” I am including believers) derives a morbid, hypocritical sort of pleasure out of that person’s fall from grace. Like the Pharisee, the thought of their heart is “I am glad that I am not as this publican.”
To those of us who have fallen from grace, God says this:
“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:7)
And because those who need this grace, and those who would deny us this grace, cannot fathom the depths of that grace, God adds:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.” (Isaiah 55:8)
God does not pull any punches in His assessment of our actions. He calls us “wicked” and “unrighteous” because it’s the truth. The only way to deal with a problem is to identify it. A doctor cannot correctly treat a patient until he is able to diagnose the problem. If I am not willing to see myself and my sin as God sees it, not even God can help me, and that is the truth.
Unlike the world, God does not just point out the problem, and unlike the world, He does not take pleasure in pointing it out. When God points out a problem it’s because He intends to do something about it. There are two things that Isaiah says God does: He has mercy upon that fallen soul, and he pardons – abundantly. But these two actions are predicated on one very important act on our part: repentance. Repentance isn’t “turning over a new leaf,” or “cleaning up our act.” It is a change of direction. It is me turning from going my way and turning to God. It is me recognizing the error of my ways and trusting God’s way, knowing that His thoughts are not my thoughts, and His ways are not my ways. My thoughts and my ways are what got me into trouble and are what will keep me there, if I do not turn and repent.
Will turning to God remove all the consequences I have brought upon myself? Will it reconcile me to all those whom I have wronged? Restore all my relationships? Renew all the bonds of trust that my way has broken? Honestly, probably not. That’s not to say it will not restore any, but God does not promise to remove all the consequences of our past. He does promise to restore us to Himself, remember our sins no more and to be with us as we move forward. Sadly, the way of sin often leaves nothing but scorched earth in its wake when it comes to our past, but it cannot touch our future unless we allow it. If we forsake our way and our thoughts, we can trust God with our future. And allow His restoring touch to have its way in our lives.