Robbed but Restored (Joel 2:25)

Every once in a while I have a flashback to something a Lipscomb professor said to me in 2003. He was one of my psychology professors and I was in several of his classes. The one I was attending at the time was a course focusing on marriage and the family. I had been open about my life and past struggles (both with my professors and in classroom discussions). But on this particular day I was giddily showing him my engagement ring. I remember telling him that I could hardly believe the way my life was falling into place and and how loved and happy I finally was. I had not expected God to bless me this way -- or for such blessings to come quickly, if they ever came at all.

Sometimes in a conversation like that, the other party will respond with a word of caution or even a cynical remark. But on this occasion, my professor responded simply by quoting a scripture to me:

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten . . ." (Joel 2:25).

(Joel 2:26 goes on to say, ". . . and you will praise the name of the LORD your God, who has worked wonders for you. . . .")

Although I had read my Bible from beginning to end, that was not a passage that had lodged in my brain. But I have never forgotten it since. And over the last eight years, I have thought of it countless times. God really has done that in my life. And my marriage to John is the most obvious example. But there are many areas of my life where God has restored that which was lost. Even in little things that would seem inconsequential to Him.

Saturday I was invited to go prom dress shopping with my nieces, my sister-in-law and one of their close friends. We had the best day together. And I was so thrilled to be included. I always love spending time with my nieces. But sharing this little milestone event in Karlie's life was extra special for me because I missed out on all the normal milestone events of jr. high and high school. I never went to a football game, a dance or the prom. Participation in school events such as these was strictly forbidden (by the cult), along with a lot of other very normal, wholesome activities that most people take for granted as rites of passage.

At this stage of my life, I am not torn up over having missed out on going to the prom. It isn't what I consider a monumental loss. After all, it's not as if I would be a much better person today if I'd gone to the prom. But I understand how some of my friends still feel robbed of a normal childhood. And, as an aunt, I am absolutely certain that I enjoyed shopping with Karlie for her prom dress far more because of the contrast between her teenage years and mine. I am not living vicariously through her. I am very content to live my own life. But I sure am savoring the joy of watching both my nieces fully live and fully enjoy their teenage years. And I feel very blessed to share these milestones with them.

It's another way God has restored what the locust has eaten. I like the word "restore" much better than "repay." God doesn't owe me something He is compelled to repay. But He is faithful and loving and merciful. He restores.

My focus today is no longer on the locust or the years that were eaten because I have experienced the "repayment" -- the restoration -- of God.

Watching Karlie try on dresses, sharing her excitement and enthusiasm, Cheryl and I completely agreed that it was way more fun to be having this experience as her mom and aunt than it ever could have been to do it ourselves. I felt no sense of loss for myself. I felt only gratitude, joy and delight.
. . . and thankfulness.

God is good.
To think I once believed that the little details of my life didn't matter to Him.


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