At church, we’ve been going through Acts, and there was a lovely sermon a couple of weeks ago on the fourth chapter and Peter’s road to completeness. Pastor Mike started out with going over the overall plan and path for God’s children.
Seems pretty basic, right? I thought I knew what I ought to have known about all of this when the sermon started. I went through and got definitions for redemption and restoration to make sure that I knew the difference. My Bible says that redemption has to do with “buying back” or “delivering” while restoration has to do with “reestablishing” or “replacing.” These might not seem all that different in the big scheme of things, and they even go hand-in-hand a lot of the time, but I’m learning how hard it is to walk all the way through all of these pieces.
There are several events in my life that I consider to be HUGE falls. Of course there’s the original sin fall, but I stumble pretty much every few minutes, and some of those stumbles haunt me kind of a lot. The two that haunt me most often are idol worship with softball and my time with Dirtbag Jason. Both of these falls happened forever ago in my life (more than 5 years for each) but the pain & guilt I experience from them are fresh.
A few weeks ago, Roommate Amy and I were talking, and she asked me, “Don’t you think you beat yourself up over this stuff a little too much.”
“Probably,” was my answer.
“Don’t you think that God has forgiven you?”
“Well, of course… I know that He’s forgiven me, but that doesn’t make me feel like everything is peachy.”
I didn’t know it when Amy and I were talking, but we were having a conversation about the difference between redemption and restoration. I don’t mind letting God redeem me. I know that I’ve messed up. I know that just as Peter denied Christ, I denied Him – not verbally – but in my actions and thoughts. I asked God to forgive me, and I believe that He did, but that isn’t the end. God gives us more than just forgiveness. He gives us restoration. He makes us complete again.
In chapter 4 of Acts, God grants Peter this amazing opportunity to stand before the very same people he stood before in John 18, but this time show how God had restored him. Annas and Caiaphas are there both times when Peter is questioned about Jesus. In John 18, he denies his Savior. There’s the fall.
In John 21, Jesus asks Peter 3 times if he loves Him. Those three times mirror the three times that Peter denied Him. After Peter tells Jesus that he does love Him, Jesus tells him to tend His sheep. Jesus not only forgives Peter, but uses him. Then, to put an exclamation point on Peter’s restoration, he gets to stand before the same men, under similar circumstances as his fall, but this time, Peter proclaims the gospel. God uses him to do that which he was incapable of doing.
The slow work of Christ on my heart has been indescribable. The people closest to me have gently encouraged me, yet pointed out my flaws (in particular my fierce ungentle side), and I’ve grown and changed so that I’m a completely different person from that girl who hated giving up softball for God, then replaced softball with attention from a man rather than love from a Savior. I hate that I ever went those directions in my past, but maybe it’s time to let God restore those pieces of me.
I don’t know if what I’ve written here makes much sense or flows very well, but Peter’s story and the way Mike talked about it touched those wounded pieces of my heart that I’ve let God forgive me for and even clean up a bit… but never let him restore to full usefullness.