Forgiveness and Restoration

(Excerpt from my new book – Hidden by the Brook. Pre-orders now available @ jksanchez.com)

The famine had been great in Egypt and even harder on those far out into the desert areas. The small group of dirty, tired and hungry men stood before the only man that could help provide food for them and their families. They had made the long journey, hoping for help to survive; now bowing with respect before this unknown man. 

He was unrecognizable to them, but Joseph knew who bowed before him: the very brothers who had betrayed him and sold him into slavery twenty-two years ago. The emotions stirred within him – how was he to respond? With wisdom, he questioned them, finding out that his father and youngest brother were still alive and well. He tested them, detained them and gave them a way to prove themselves men of changed integrity. And then provided the much-needed grain at no cost. 

His heart was overwhelmed with forgiveness as he overheard their discussions of regret and anguish over what they had done to their brother, still not aware of who it was that stood before them.

Joseph sent them home, and for several months, one brother remained in custody waiting for his brothers to return with their youngest brother for the exchange. As Joseph awaited their return, God continued a work of forgiveness in his heart. 

The return with Benjamin, his youngest brother, brought great joy to Joseph, but he devised one more test. However, the emotional response and petition of mercy from his brothers gave way to a flood of forgiveness within him, and he revealed who he was. A heavy silence settled over the room as great fear and anguish swirled in each brothers’ thoughts. But Joseph had already broken off the chains of betrayal that had haunted him for years and had chosen to forgive them. 

He compassionately announced, “Do not be distressed because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life” (Genesis 45:5). The forgiveness and restoration between Joseph and his family allowed for years of abundant provision. 

The planned purpose of the hand of God’s preparation on a broken, prideful, betrayed young man prevailed. A young man who had submitted himself before God and in faith trusted as he waited for God’s answer. The very survival of multitudes of people, including the Hebrew nation, was accomplished through a life hidden in obscurity – a man hidden in order to preserve life.   

As our life stretches before us, we are oblivious of what it will hold. The wonderful surprises send us to the heights of joy, while the devastating losses find us lower than we ever think we can recover from – yet there is God, always there in the midst. We walk in joy and tears – a seemingly diametrically-opposed paradigm – yet in that space between, we find, grow and learn how to live a life of abundance.

The keys to this life of abundance are found in the process. They are found in the dark hidden places. The places where tears flow, where anger and frustration rage, where the despair of hopelessness overtakes us. But it is right there where we find the refuge, our only place to run – into the arms of Jesus. In the process we find His love and forgiveness. That key – the love and forgiveness of Jesus – will release us from prison. It will allow us to walk into a new life – a promised eternal life. The process still must have its way within us, but now we can say, “Yes, Lord.” Submitting under His loving hand will allow us to find another crucial key: forgiveness. This time forgiveness of others. 

Joseph had no idea what God’s plan for his life was on that day he found himself at the bottom of a dusty well. Betrayal after betrayal and pain, hurt and prison didn’t deter his knowledge of who he served. His God’s steadfast love was the refuge that lifted and molded him into the man that would be the best one for God’s assignment. You stand in the same place: God’s plan and assignment for your life is before you, – your choice is to trust Him in the process.

Joseph was able to declare, “God sent me to preserve life.” That is an eternal mandate for each of us as we serve our Lord and Savior – Jesus Christ. Getting to our ultimate, completed assignment takes a lifetime of choices. 

Those choices are to walk in a life full of continual love, forgiveness, compassion, kindness, humility and patience, along with many other attributes that He will knead into your heart, soul and mind. This kneading will always take place when you are quiet, separated, isolated – hidden in places where He can meet with you undistracted. 

During these times He will transform you into the individual that He desires to use – leading you to His assignment, the very one that only you can perform.

Col. 3:12-14 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put-on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (ESV)

Rust-bucket to Useable Glory

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The old, rusted-out truck rattled to a stop on the back of a flatbed truck. To me, it was ready for the junk yard “crusher”, but to my friend it was a beauty waiting to be revealed. What it would require, would take an unfathomable amount of time and labor. Every screw, bolt and wire, and every scrap of metal would be removed from the interior and exterior. The stripping, scrapping and sanding of every rusty spot would consume months. Pieces unable to be fixed would need to be found – and the finding of those old original parts, would be a job in itself. Bumpers, headlights, seats and even armrests must be exactly right to complete this restoration. At its completion, it couldn’t just look great, it must also be able to function as it should; thus, requiring complete reconstruction of everything under the anticipated, shiny hood. It must be useable – its original purpose must be restored. The end result for the restorer: a stunning transformation from rust-bucket to useable glory.

The word restoration stirs in us an immediate response – one of hope. When we hear it, we anticipate renewal in all areas of our lives; relationships, finances and health are just a few. We expect a quick change, a change that we hope will miraculously transform us, others and our circumstances.

So, when God spoke to my heart and my church, that 2020 would be a year of restoration; I was excited, anticipating all that God would do. Then March came with a deadly virus and a “lockdown.” But now, as 2020 nears its end, I look back and realize that God has been faithful in His promise of restoration.

Restoration is a process – a hard, grueling process. What is true for the restoration of a truck is even more valid for you and me. Each of us have walked through this year differently. The pain and hardships have been very real and daunting. Yet, I have felt the close presence of the Lord through every step. He was there with me; teaching, whispering, encouraging and sometimes carrying me. His transformation in our lives is found in the middle of the stripping, scrapping and sanding – the very process of restoration – the process that this year has accomplished in each of us. We have all gone through that same process, this year.

 We have had to be stripped of all that wasn’t important, scrapped of our own opinions and attitudes, and pridefully sanded into a humble, lover-of-His-presence. He is continuing to replace every lost and worn out part, and is carefully re-wiring us to the purposes we were created for. We are changing from an unusable rust-bucket to a son and daughter of the King, ready to carry out His purpose and plan for our lives and those around us. We are becoming His useable glory.

This year of restoration is nearing completion. The restorer desires to reveal and release His beauty, completely restored and ready to be used. Are you ready? Let’s accept this assignment to carry all that He has restored in our lives into a new year, as we are becoming exactly who the restorer designed us to be.

Ps. 23:1-3 The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd. I always have more than enough. He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love. His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss. Thats where he restores and revives my life. He opens before me pathways to Gods pleasure and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness so that I can bring honor to his name. (TPT)