Psalm 23: 1-3
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.”
Restore. What does it truly mean to be restored? To be restored sounds just lovely to me. Wouldn’t any woman desire that? Don’t I, as a mother and wife (sometimes exhausted from my daily life) want what restoration can offer?
To be restored means to return to the original, usable and functioning condition; to give new life or energy; to replace what is broken. This is what I desire! Newness to what is broken in my life! As we start this new year, its an opportunity to reflect on where I’ve been and what I want for my tomorrows. Its a chance to see what hasn’t worked in my life and to plan for changes that can lead to true transformation. So I’ve been thinking of what I desire most of all. The other day I thought, “I wish I could just be made new, start over, get rid of all the junk and just be filled with all things good and true.” I get so easily frustrated with myself when I fall back into the old patterns and ways that have haunted me for so long. I desire to live life differently; to give more grace to my family, to speak words of life, to be free from fear and worry, to be deeply thankful for all I have, and yet I live each day with the same patterns and routines. I want different results, but stick with doing the same old things. I, like so many others, agree that resolutions aren’t the answer. I have failed them so many times. They are great ideas that might make my life better, easier and more meaningful, but they are just that…ideas. They aren’t goals. They aren’t plans. They aren’t changes. They never leave my head. They will never transform me.
Only Jesus Christ can do that. Only He can transform me into something new. 1 Cor 5:17 ” Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.” (HCSB) That is great news!
Restoration comes from a relationship with the Lord, Jesus Christ! Psalm 23 says that “He restores my soul.” No one else can do that. Nothing else can do that. No great ideas, no well perfected plans. Only Him. So, what must take priority on my journey of restoration?
Building my relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Making God the priority in my day. Not just talking about making God my priority, but actually DOing it! James 1:22 says “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (NIV) This surely has to be the focus of my life, if restoration is my goal. The Lord alone can and will fill our cups. And knowing this gives me hope. Because my cup needs filling daily. I can have a super day, feel like God has filled my cup to overflowing and feel amazing peace and joy. And tomorrow…my cup starts leaking. And leaking… And leaking… And eventually I’m dry. Completely dry. And when I’m dry, its really easy to start that negative thinking. That defeating reminder that I’m not what I want to be, that I’m failing and I will never measure up.
Seeking the Lord is the first step in restoring my broken soul. But even though the Lord alone can and will restore us and fill our cups, my heart has to be willing to seek and listen to God. And sometimes, I have personally found it hard to engage in any relationship when I’m running on empty, when my battery isn’t charged. I have found there are a few things I can do to prepare my heart to seek the Lord. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but a simple one to remember when you find yourself dry; emotionally, physically and spiritually.
5 ways to Restore your soul….
1. Be still
In the busyness of our days, I find it very difficult to “be still”. I am moving all day. There is always laundry to do, toys to pick up (endless toys), a house to clean, bills to pay, beds to make, children to bathe, teeth to brush, errands to run, etc. You get the idea. Having 3 toddlers, I am never still. But if seeking God is my priority, I must intentionally take the time to still my mind and my body. Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.” Practically, this may look like laying on the floor in the middle of the toys and just closing your eyes for 5 minutes. Just stop. Be quiet. Listen.
2. Be thankful.
Look around you. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, and can’t ever seem to find time to do, be thankful for what you do have and are able to do. We all would say we are thankful for our husbands, children, home, food, etc, but are we? Do we just say it? Do we really believe it? What about being thankful for the sun shining, having eyes to see, hearing our children’s laughter, toilet paper? It is true…a thankful person sees the good and God in things that many of us cannot. I want to be thankful.
3. Go for a walk.
Get outside and breathe some fresh air. Refill your lungs with some clean oxygen. Get your blood flowing. Use the body that God gave you to move. As much as I believe exercise is essential, I’m not talking about running a marathon or even starting an exercise program, although those are fabulous ideas. I mean just get out and get a fresh perspective. The routine-ness of our daily life, our family and our home can become overwhelming. We can become bogged down with the realities of life. When we are feeling like this, its hard to listen to God and to feel anything but fatigue. Walking gives you energy. It lifts your spirit. It releases endorphins in your body. There have been so many occasions that after a good walk outside, my attitude and thoughts on something have changed. So, get moving.
Recently I happened to glance at myself in the mirror while I was busy cleaning up the house and what I saw made me take a double take. I was frowning. And since that time, I have realized, I frown…a lot. Not because I’m grumpy or even mad, although I am sometimes, but because I think I’ve trained my face to look sad. Seriously. So if I want to be restored, I am intentionally focusing on smiling. And honestly, it feels weird. Try it. Stop right now and just smile. Come on…show some teeth. Weird, huh? But you felt better didn’t you? So did I. The more I smile, the lighter I feel. Don’t wait to smile until you’re happy; smile and you will feel happy.
5. Pray Scripture.
Why pray scripture? Sometimes when I’m feeling down and overwhelmed, or mad or frustrated at something, the last thing I want to do is pray or read my Bible. That is why praying scripture is so important. That is why memorizing scripture is so important. Or at the very least, having some index cards with your favorite scriptures on them so you can pull them out at the moment you feel like exploding. Psalm 46:10 … Lord, Please help me to be still. Help me to know right now that You are God. James 1:19…Lord, help me to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry right now when all I want to do is scream. Praying scripture is a cry for help to a God who loves to listen to us cry out to Him, to speak his Words of truth and who loves to pour out His love, grace and mercy into our broken lives.
And that is what we are…broken. Every one of us. But never beyond repair by the Only One who can restore our empty soul, our Comforter, our Healer and the Lord of our lives, Jesus Christ. Moms, sisters, daughters and friends, we cannot run our cups to empty and expect fulfillment. Doing these things is not a guarantee of life transformation, but quieting our hearts and come to the Lord as we are will prepare us to receive ALL that he has to offer. He alone will fill our cups, He will restore our souls. Trust me…you and your family will be so thankful you did.