Have you ever gotten into a car accident? I have. When I lived in the LA area in college I got in three accidents in three months. It was a record! I had never been in an accident prior and have never been in an accident since. It’s an awful feeling. My heart sank each time I crashed into another car. I still remember it like it was yesterday: the glass on the road, the angry people I hit, and the cop looking at me with his stern, intimidating face.
After all was said in done, I took my car into the body shop for estimate. There was obviously body damage, but what I couldn’t see the damage beneath the exterior of the car. Trying to get away with the cheapest fix I remember asking, “Can I just fix the outside and not worry about the structural damage?” The mechanic was emphatic. “Sure, if you want it to fall apart on the freeway!” I was more concerned with what my car looked like on the outside, than how it ran and operated on the inside.This makes me think of how God is more concerned with our heart and our soul, than He is with our outer behaviors. Don’t get me wrong, God cares about our actions, but not if our heart isn’t right. You see, we’ve all been in a collision with sin and although we want a quick fix, what we really need is an overhaul of our heart. When we take our broken down life to God, He’s the ultimate mechanic. And He’s more concerned with what’s under the hood of your life, not the paint job. You see, God’s in the restoration business. Think about this….
In Genesis we see this personal, intimate God create a perfect world in order to dwell with humanity. This perfect world consisted of a garden we can only describe as paradise. It’s a world where our best descriptions and words can’t even begin to paint an accurate picture of its beauty, magnificence and brilliance. And in the center of all created things, the reason all things were created, is man; considered the “crown of creation.” God is pleased with His creation, and walks in perfect unity with him. But then it all falls apart….
You know the story, Adam and Eve sin and all relationships begin to disintegrate: relationships between man and God and man and others. As the rest of the story unfolds, we see a loving, gracious God that makes a way for His people to enter into relationship with Him. Sometimes man takes advantage of the opportunity, sometimes he doesn’t.
When we look at the end of the story, in the last chapter of Revelation, John writes down a picture of what the new heaven and new earth look like. It’s uncanny how familiar it sounds. It’s beautiful, it’s magnificent, and it’s brilliant. It’s the garden.
So here we have the story of God start in the garden of paradise and end in the garden of promise. And in the middle there is a process. It’s a process of God passionately pursuing a relationship with humanity. In this process is a God who restores. The process of restoration is taking us back to what life was like before sin in the garden. God wants to restore us, which is restoring the beauty of Him inside each one of us. Restoration is uncomfortable. It takes bending, hammering, sanding and repainting our lives. But in the final conclusion of the story, if we let God restore our lives, we end up where God started. In the beginning….