One summer in the late 1970’s, a swarm of locusts blanketed my neighborhood. My eight-year-old eyes were amazed at their massive numbers. Three and a half decades later, God used that memory to prove His restorative power to me.
There wasn’t a single piece of vegetation those bugs didn’t gnaw to shreds. Gardenias, azaleas, honeysuckle vine leaves – they feasted on them all. That year, we had some shabby shrubbery.
It was after the locusts left town fat and happy that I discovered the remnants of their visit. When the sky had cleared, locust shells perched on tree trunks as far as the eye could see. There had to have been thousands of them. Maybe even millions.
That summer, I studied locust shells. I gathered them. I counted them. I broke them apart. And I could relate with them.
At that young age, I had already discovered the fatal flaw of ruin deep within me. My father’s rejection had fractured my heart, and lies of unworthiness were at work in my spirit. I looked upon those hollow locust shells and saw my own reflection. I identified with the emptiness.
PAIN IN THE NIGHT
Third grade marked the year I started my first diet because my self-image was of a grotesque, unlovable little girl. I strove in sports and schoolwork to please my parents, hoping to overshadow my ugly parts. By age ten, I despised my name. By middle school, I had faked my way into an identity crisis.
The result was a deep-seated anger, poor choices and further relational damage. There’s no denying the clouds of doom that hovered over my early years. And hindsight reveals how the pain rushed against me, compelling my surrender into wounded self-pity.
Picking through these memories today stirs up an unwelcomed sense of oppression.
Through His grace, God’s beautiful masterpiece of healing wrought from the singed ashes of my past overcomes every intimidating thought.
JOY IN THE MORNING
As I gaze through clearstory windows today, I’m entertained by puffy clouds floating in a sunlit blue sky. And it’s a perfect picture of the Father’s transformational work in my life.
A few years ago when I began my relationship with the Father, I could see a clear distinction between my old life and my new one. In many ways, that’s a wonderful thing. But I couldn’t escape viewing my past as a waste. In my eyes, it was good for nothing.
Then I came across this scripture, and it gave me hope:
“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten…” (Joel 2:25 NKJV).
Immediately, I remembered the year the locusts invaded my neighborhood and ravaged our foliage. I recalled the exoskeletons littering the trees with the evidence of their raid. And I felt a great pain in not knowing how any good could come from my crawled upon, consumed and chewed up life.
For weeks, I grieved over this – over the useless, damaged years of my past. The years I was abandoned to bear my shame, guilt and brokenness alone.
On a day when I desperately sought Him to redeem my despicable years and bring them to a state of restoration, He did.
The many years when I bore the weight of loneliness, He showed me He was there, right there, with His little girl. As she watched the emptiness infiltrate her spirit day by day, He never left her.
Our unawareness of God’s presence has no bearing on His unwillingness to abandon us. And no storm is a match for the Lord. As the pain surged in my life, the Lord was still the Lord of Psalm 29.
He spoke with power, majesty and sovereignty over my life. He worked on my behalf to tear down and uproot that which would hide the truth. And he held back the overwhelming waters, completing His own purposes despite my wrong beliefs.
THEREFORE, ASCRIBE TO THE LORD
This is our Lord that deserves all glory, power and majesty. This is our Father that made a way, through Christ, to be with us. This is our God who restores all things, even battered and beaten up years, for His glory and our good.
If you think your past is unredeemable, that nothing good can come from it, lay it before the Lord and see what He says. I’m certain He will have an entirely different opinion on the matter.
God will restore your past. The question is, will you let Him?
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