The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. Isaiah 58:11-12
Sometimes the idea of being one who brings restoration, one who repairs, is a wonderful notion. We think, “I want to leave the world better than I found it. I want to make the lives of others better.” And God says here that this is the plan for his people. They will be repairers and restorers. Wow, that sounds good! I want to be that kind of person. I want to belong to that kind of people! And then we try. We try to plug into a community of people who are “God’s people” and we try to become these repairers, these world restorers…
And it all falls flat.
We find God’s people to be lacking. We find that they tear down more than build up, that they open wounds more readily than they heal them. And when we are honest, brutally honest, we find that we do the same. What’s going on here?! Didn’t God say that “the people” would be repairers and restorers? So where’s the breakdown?
It’s tempting to say, “Well maybe it’s this church, this people.” And we move to another group where we like this thing more or that thing seems better or where they don’t know us so we can get a fresh start. And it’s all exciting and the new relationships are interesting and everyone thinks we are wonderful and we return the sentiment…for a while.
And then what? More tearing down. Little restoration of the broken. Little repairing of the hurting. Why?
I am beginning to understand that the key to being this people described in Isaiah 58:12 is found in the verse before it. Look at what God says about his people before they become the great restorers and repairers:
“The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”
Before the people as a whole become those that heal they have to be the group of individuals who have found their needs met in God. They have to be healed, restored, and repaired themselves.
“He will guide you. He will satisfy your needs.”
The truth, the unfortunate reality, is that we are broken and hurting. Everyone you’ve ever met is carrying baggage. They are all—just like you—trying to stop the bleeding of their own wounds. Life is hard and everyone gets scars along the way. The reality is that until we let God be our guide through the pain, until we allow Him and only Him to satisfy our needs, we will never be repairers or restorers.
“He will satisfy…”
Too often we are tempted to let the desire for revenge satisfy. But it doesn’t. Or we want to let the “safety” we feel from pretending that nothing ever happened try to satisfy. Or we seek for satisfaction by the denying our deepest, darkest secrets; pretending they don’t exist, pretending they don’t continue to imprison and rob us of fulfillment.
But these don’t satisfy. Ever. Why do we so readily behave like we accepted Jesus and so old hurts just magically don’t hurt anymore? As if old wounds just mysteriously don’t bleed anymore. This is just a lie. And the only way to become the restores and repairers of this broken world is to admit that we are in need of repair and restoration ourselves.
The reason most of us never enter into the deepest reality of our relationship with Christ is that we so seldom acknowledge our utter nothingness before Him. -Thomas Merton
I don’t know about you, but I want to be a world repairer; a people restorer. It starts by admitting that I’m broken. It starts by confronting my pain and the wounds I still carry. It starts when I admit that I cannot even repair myself. Only God can guide me. Only he can satisfy me. Only he can heal my brokenness.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3