When Lives Are Restored
by Beth Parkinson
Presenter, CBN Europe
Continuing on the theme of ‘life between the ditches’, Beth Parkinson illustrates how God can use broken lives, yes, but He also loves to restore.
Saul to Paul
The book of Acts kicks off with all sorts of exciting things happening.
The church is growing in Jerusalem, people are getting healed and saved and more and more are professing the name of Jesus. But then, a couple of chapters in, we see the arrest and the stoning of Stephen. Stephen was the first martyr for Christ and a man called Saul was conspicuously holding coats and encouraging the stoning that day (Acts 8:1-3).
Saul’s zeal for the Jewish religion went further than being an onlooker to a horrific murder. He went on to spark fear throughout the church, (Acts 8:3) scattering believers as they fled from his rampage to imprison and persecute them.
But Saul didn’t stay as Saul. Acts 9:1-31 takes us along that Damascus Road with him, where he encountered Jesus for himself. It was a huge turning point that would change everything about him, even down to his name. A man thinking he had everything right – obeying every letter of the law – was literally humbled, falling to the ground in front of the Saviour King and restored. From religion to relationship.
Paul had a big mission placed on his life from the moment of salvation. He was called to reach the Gentiles, the non-Jews, with the good news of Jesus – but he had a huge mountain of prejudice to overcome – and not an unfounded one either!
He had been the scourge of the newly growing church, and now needed them to trust him. His life teaches us a huge lesson. Our salvation, forgiveness and restoration are the work of a moment with Christ, but can often be a journey that we have to travel with the people around us. People who knew us before our transformation or recommitment need to see the fruit of repentance in our lives. We can’t simply tell them that we’ve changed – and that can take time.
Our salvation, forgiveness and restoration are the work of a moment with Christ, but can often be a journey that we have to travel with the people around us.
Trusting the Restoration
For Paul, even with all explanations of his encounter with Christ, the apostles were wary. It took a length of time for him to be fully accepted. In fact – it took Barnabus taking Paul under his wing, travelling with him and teaching him the work of an apostle for things to change. This then goes full circle, as later on Paul is commissioned and sent out, taking John Mark with him, and trains him up too.
Restoration is possible, beautiful in fact – but let’s learn from Paul, in not expecting it to happen overnight. Once we do see the fruit of redemption in our lives, let’s extend it to others under our influence too.
You may not think you’re holding coats, watching people being murdered, but ask yourself today – are there areas in your life where you are so attached to the traditions you’ve come to know that you’ve overlooked the relationship with Jesus that overrides the ‘rules’? Are you standing by when words of condemnation rain down on people around you? Or are you, in those moments, seeking the heart of heaven, the heart of grace to intervene and offer hope to the hurting, light to those lost in the dark?
Audience of One
Maybe you’re on that journey of restoring the faith and trust of those around you. Be encouraged. Remember that ultimately, even as you ‘earn’ the trust of man, you are working for the Lord. As people look on, and see religion turned to relationship, as they see grace pouring out in the place of judgement, you will be a louder voice for Christ than ever before.
‘By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’ John 13:35.