October 1, 2007

Soul Restoration
by Pastor George Van Alstine

We had a big yard sale last Saturday. It was held on the Van Alstine’s front lawn, to catch the Farmer’s Market crowd, but it was to benefit the church’ Hospitality Committee and its efforts to make the church a warm, comfortable place to be.

It was a successful sale, clearing over $900. This was an impressive amount, since most of our sales involved small stuff—clothes, glassware, knick-knacks, etc. For some reason, no one was buying furniture and small appliances. (Contact me for a good deal on nice wood desks, a bedroom set, working TVs.)

I want to thank those who helped in any way: Lorraine Soliz, Juanita DeVaughn, Leon Barinaga, Ron Faulkner, Peter Larson, Mimi Graves, Paula DeVaughn, Tianna Van Alstine, Caitlin Mendibles, Judy Van Alstine, Connie DeVaughn, Bill Zobrist, Chet Kelsey. There were three special people (besides myself) who put in more than twelve hours: Diane Lee, Thelma Thomas and Carla Cunningham. Total volunteer hours approximated 100.

I petered out about 1:00 PM. I called in some new volunteers for the cleanup. I tried to work along side them, but my muscles would no longer obey my brain. I used to pride myself in the fact that I could outlast younger people during a church workday, but I couldn’t hang in there. When we finally persuaded the crew to quit about 5:30 PM, I sat in my chair and literally couldn’t get up. I was really thirsty for a glass of ice water, but the kitchen was twenty steps away.

I fell asleep for a little while, then woke up and watched TV for the evening. Pastor Connie was preaching the next morning, so I didn’t have to worry about that. Actually, I was so tired, I couldn’t even think about Sunday. I went to sleep about 10:30 PM and slept like a baby (or a worn-out old guy) all night.

Now, here’s the miracle! I woke up refreshed, renewed, and ready to go. The legs took a while to loosen up, but otherwise I felt like my old self. Somehow, overnight, my body had been restored!

That’s the word I thought of—“restored.â€? And my mind went immediately to the familiar words of Psalm 23:
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside still waters;
He restores my soul.�

Just as my body can become totally depleted, so my soul can become worn out, used up by life’s challenges. I may feel spiritually empty and powerless.

The restoration of my body is something I can’t accomplish by my own will. I go to sleep, and as I’m out of conscious control, God works within me through processes he’s built into my body. Soul restoration is even more beyond my ability. I am like a sheep being led by my shepherd to green pastures and still waters. There he restores my soul.

The Hebrew word translated “restoresâ€? simply means to turn back, or to go back to some place you’ve been before. Interestingly, it is sometimes used in Hebrew for the idea of repenting (1Kings 8:47, Ezekiel 14:6, 18:30). Often the reason my soul is not restored is because I am not following my shepherd. I need to repent, turn around and follow him in order to have a restored soul.

Refusing to follow him would be like refusing to go to bed when my body is worn out. I can’t restore myself, but I can put myself in the place of restoration—in the case of my body, the bed; in the case of my soul, the Shepherd’s fold.