Mary sat on a stool in a storage room in the back of the basement. Her husband was upstairs, fighting a courageous battle with cancer. Her sweater and slacks hung loosely on her thinning frame. Her gray hair, wrapped up in a loose bandanna, framed her bright and beautiful face that reflects a love for the Lord Jesus. At seventy five years old and she is an artist pursuing the heart of God.
I stood a short distance from her, examining the storage shelves that had been built by her husband years before. Gradually, I pulled out bound canvas pictures that she painted over the years, and for one reason or another, had stored away in the catacombs of her basement. Most of them she was displeased with. The balance or the proportions or the colors were wrong, in her eyes. We were on a quest to gather up some of her work to be shown and sold, and thought that it worthwhile to explore the basement gallery where some of her work slept.
I pulled off the shelf a painting of red potted geraniums. It appeared dusty, old and worn.
"Oh, dear, " she sighed. "No one would be interested in that one. I painted it years ago. Dick gave me those geraniums and I set up my easel in the kitchen and painted them right on the spot. The painting hung in a local art store, but then was returned after a fire had damaged the store, and the painting. See the sides, dear, they are gray from the smoke. The whole painting, in fact, is dingy and has little beauty anymore."
I was taken by the story. How interesting and yet sad. All those years had gone by and this painting sat, unframed, resting on the shelves in this small place. No light. No love. No appreciation. Just waiting.
After consulting with Mary, I took a damp towel and began to wash the painting with gentle strokes. Layer by layer, the grime and smoke particles came off, and underneath, brilliant and deep colors began to emerge. The painting was being made new again and it was quite lovely.
The painting was gradually being restored. To restore something means to give it new life; to bring back from a state of injury or decay. It is taking something from a changed state and returning it to life.
Dear reader, are you feeling veiled by the darkness of your circumstance? Is the suffering that you are experiencing like a shroud of gray covering your heart, mind, body and soul? Do you feel as if you are in need of new life? Are you dry and lifeless needing refreshment?
Psalm 23:3 tells us that "... he restores my soul." God comes in and revives us and refreshes our spirit. He takes our hearts that have been covered in our sin or our suffering or our sorrow and gently wipes away that which clouds, and brings out new color and depth in to our lives.
Like the Psalmist we can cry out "Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me" (Psalm 51:12). Dear reader, only God can do this. He is the Artist of your life and He can wipe clean all that stands in the way of you radiating your true beauty. And with that, He will grant a spirit within us that will help us to hold on. Only God can restore our joy.
God is the Great Restorer. We may wonder today, "How in the world will that happen? What will it look like? When, O Lord, when?" But we can rest, in our wonder, knowing that He will restore the joy of Jesus in us, and like the picture, we will reflect anew, His beauty.