Nearly a year ago, in the midst of flu-induced bed rest, I felt God speak a simple word to me as I quieted my mind and looked forward into 2018. Restoration. The word felt heavy with hope and expectation, and I took a mental inventory of all the painful places in my life that desperately needed a divine overhaul – my health, finances, employment, purpose. I had been battling chronic vertigo for nearly five years and had lost my job in the Army more than 18 months prior. Job application after job application was met with silence from prospective employers until I felt forgotten and hopeless. I was tired of laying in bed for hours a day with no identity and no purpose. But, God’s promise of restoration brought light back into my eyes. This was the year, after so many dark, endless months of crying out to God for healing and purposeful work that He would restore what the enemy had taken from me.
As the months of 2018 went by I searched high and low for signs of God’s provision. Like a scout in battle, I was on high alert for any sign of movement that might indicate where God was working. He promised restoration, and I was desperate and ready for it. Nearly every day I prayed for vision and direction – where are you leading me, Lord? Where do I go from here? What do you want from me? He spoke the same words in response every time - seek My heart.
I felt like I was in the dark with a weak flashlight, able to see only six inches in front of my face. Each day I hoped for breakthrough. For vision. For even the smallest change on the horizon which might mean dawn was finally breaking. Instead, each day was much the same as the one before – silent and seemingly purposeless, void of evidence that God was doing the restorative work he had spoken to me about months earlier. I began to go toe-to-toe with my fear that God might not come through for me. In the same breath I cried out to Him – I believe! Help me overcome my unbelief!
Every new day brought me to my knees as wave after wave of doubt and fear crashed over me. And each day I found that I could stand back up on my feet. My faith would endure another day. My Defender was providing sweet, unspeakable grace to cover me when I didn’t think I could take another step forward through the dark. He was so silent, but so near, in a way that I’d never experienced Him before. He didn’t give me what I was looking for – health, a job, answers to my pleading questions - He simply gave me Himself.
As the year’s end began to draw near I wondered if I had heard God wrong all those months ago. Where was the restoration He had spoken to me so clearly about? My life from a lot of angles looked worse off than it had nearly a year prior. I was sicker than I’d been in years, we were in even more debt, having lost a good chunk of my monthly Army disability payment, and I still had no idea where my life was headed. I asked, Lord, what have you restored? Quietly and clearly he whispered to me. You.
His answer brought forth an audible gasp from my lips. Yes, of course, Lord. God’s silence and my screaming doubts had driven me to the feet of my Lord day after day. And at His feet I found the grace I needed to make it through one more day. And I found something unexpectedly beautiful – true faith and a restored heart, unhindered by the pretense of my own strength.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast (1 Peter 5:10).