He restores my soul…
Or as the New Living Translation puts it, “He renews my strength”.
I’m a bit of a tennis fan, and I remember one year during Wimbledon reading about Andy Murray’s post-match routine. Where we might think it would involve a shower, a steak dinner, and an early night, the reality is much more of a well-organised ordeal, with time on an exercise bike for warm-down, a very precise portion of sushi to replenish proteins, and a deep tissue massage followed by an ice bath. Yikes. Why does he subject himself to this after already having had a gruelling few hours on the court? Because he knows that he has a very small window in which to recover from this match before he has to be at peak fitness and ready to play again.
His body and his strength need to be renewed and replenished. And this involves care and discipline. And while most of us will never know what it’s like to subject our bodies to the rigours of a professional tennis player, I’m sure many of us have experienced the restorative bliss of a hot bath after a long day, the sauna after the gym, or an uninterrupted night’s sleep after a year of waking up when the baby does! It feels gooood… And it sets us up for whatever comes next.
In our spiritual walk, we can feel tired, depleted, maybe even like we can’t go on. The battle is too fierce, the opposition too strong, our strength is non-existent or our hearts too heavy. The Christian life can be full of beauty and wonder and joy at times, but at other times it’s tough! Think of Paul’s letters to the different churches in the New Testament: one thing he consistently tells them he’s praying for is ENDURANCE. And the letters to the churches in Revelation all speak about OVERCOMING. These are not words that are connected with an easy life.
• Believers face illness, grief, heartbreak just like everyone else.
• At some point we will have to sacrifice something in order to follow Jesus.
• We meet with opposition, hostility perhaps, from family or friends or work colleagues.
• Our hearts hurt for the brokenness all around us, in our own homes and in the world at large.
• We want to do the right thing, but we just don’t know what it is.
If only a hot tub or a massage could heal our hearts the way they can heal our bodies…
So how do we find restoration, how can our strength be renewed?
I think the only answer is this: in God and in his word. Turning to him, crying to him, and dwelling in his word in the hard times, when there are simply no answers to be found anywhere else. In fact, dwelling in his word even in the good times, storing it up for when we need it.
In Colossians 1:11, Paul writes this: “We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people… He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son.”
And then it goes on to describe this Son, in one of my favourite passages, v15-20. The Christ who is supreme over everything. Who holds it all together. Who has made peace between us and God. Take a moment to read it now – aloud if possible, to give the words their full impact.
Doesn’t this passage restore you? What a one to read when our strength is weak!! The reminder that THIS is the One I serve, and that his glorious, limitless power is in me.
There’s a great old hymn that puts it like this:
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,
His power has no boundary known unto men;
For out of his infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!
Amazing. Our Father’s full giving is only begun…
Reading and dwelling on a passage like the above from Colossians when we don’t know how to get through the next day. Pleading with God to give us more grace and strength, believing that he will give all we need and more. Reminding ourselves that he has gotten us this far and that he will continue to work in us (Phil. 1:6).
This is how he strengthens us. This is how he fills us with joy. This is how he renews and restores us.
Over and over and over again.