(October 10, 2020) Brian Bell shares…
Recently I’ve been in hospital undergoing surgical procedure. In these days of Covid-19 when we’ve been thankful for nursing/medical staff it gave me a ‘ringside’ seat as I received such excellent care. I believe the skill and knowledge these folk display is a gift from God.
My need for a surgical ‘repair’ caused me to reflect on a local BBC television programme titled The Repair Shop. People bring what very often are precious yet old, broken, well-worn deteriorated items for repair – the most recent catching my attention was a RAF chaplain’s WW2 travelling communion set.
A team of master craftsmen and women lovingly, carefully, and painstakingly use their skills to repair and restore these items. In some cases, the repair work is of such high-quality that the owners are brought to tears at the results.
My own recent days of ‘restoration’ had me reflecting on Ezekiel 34: 16, ‘I will seek that which was lost and bring again that which was driven away and will bind up that which was broken and will strengthen that which was sick.’
‘I will seek that which was lost’ –
I recall a pawnbroker’s shop near my grandparents’ home. The pawnbroking principle is that you can ‘pawn’ an item of some value to you in return for an agreed sum of money, and also redeem it within a period by paying the redemption fee.
I believe the emphasis in this verse is on redemption.
Scripture gives illustrations of lostness… such as the lost coin and the lost sheep, but also reminds us of how earnestly the owner searched for them because they were of value or precious (Luke 15).
With men and women lost in their natural state of sin, God who created us is still seeking for us because we are of value and precious to him, so much so he has paid the price for our redemption through the shed blood of his son the Lord Jesus (Romans 3:24).
‘Bring again that which was driven away’ –
To say something was driven away speaks to me of a very deliberate action, and in the context of Ezekiel’s writing to God’s people Israel driven away from their homes and inheritance.
There is an enemy of souls, of those who seek to live by faith in the Lord Jesus and his aim is to drive us away from the Lord. As is often the case the enemy attacks in our unguarded moments, his strategy being to catch us unawares. He may lay siege to us by keeping us trapped within ourselves and some burden that is weighing us down; he will replay our weaknesses, past sins and failings and sow discord among God’s people.
Satan may not succeed in driving us into a life of gross sin but he will be content to drive us away from the fellowship of God’s people, to grow cold to God’s word and rob us of the joy of our salvation.
However, there is great encouragement in this verse because it reminds me that for those who may be driven away, they are still the Lord’s property and it’s his purpose to bring them back again. Yes, God is the God of redemption, but he is also the God of returning. If you find yourself in that situation at present – whatever brought it about – be encouraged: the Lord wants to bring you back into fellowship!
‘Bind up that which was broken’ –
God, who has provided redemption and promised returning, is also the God of restoration.
In his book Faith like Potatoes, evangelist Angus Buchan describes how one day his four-year-old nephew asked if he could ride on the tractor. Angus writes, ‘I had been a farmer for many years and had taken hundreds of children on tractor rides however.’
Tragically, despite his careful handling, there was a jolt, the little boy fell off the tractor and the wheels drove right over his little body. Angus describes how he cried, ‘Lord, you can have the farm, you can have the mealies, I’ll give you the shirt off my back, every cent I have if you will just give my brother his little son back to life.’
We can all be wounded and broken by circumstances in life – friends can sometimes disappoint us, promises broken, relationships severed, loved ones parted from us by death. Sometimes the cause of our brokenness may be such we feel unable to share it with other people – but there isn’t anything we can’t share with the Lord – he already knows and is willing to bind up our brokenness.
Like the Good Samaritan, the Holy Spirit will bind up our wounds and apply the oil of healing.
‘Strengthen that which was sick’ –
This last phrase speaks to me about refreshing. My recent surgery meant that a common side effect was to feel tired and ‘under the weather’ for a period. Sickness is an inheritance of our fallen sinful nature and it can affect our bodies, mind, and spirits.
- Sometimes we need rest to refresh us!
- We can be strengthened by remembering the promises of scripture, such as ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’ (Hebrews 13:5).
- And ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11:28).
- We can be strengthened by relationships – the friendship and fellowship of others is one of the primary reasons for the assembly of believers.
Bring broken pieces to the master craftsman!
Ezekiel 34: 16 encourages my heart because once I was lost – brought up in the church and all its activities but lost. Yet the Lord sought me. There was a time when I was driven away but he brought me back. I have known times of brokenness but the Lord did bind me up and strengthened me in times of sickness.
God is always the same! He is unaffected by the many changes in our lives and doesn’t show favouritism because of our position in life, our material possessions or lack of them.
The Lord is a master craftsman in the repair and restoration of the spirits and souls of men and women, so if you may be feeling lost, tired, weak, sick or even useless, he can and will carefully, lovingly and painstakingly undertake your restoration and it may even bring you to tears of thankfulness.
The following lyrics from Broken Pieces (attributed, I believe, to Ruby Kitchen) may further encourage you.
‘Have you failed in life’s battles to accomplish your plans,
Is your heart heavy laden do you fear the Lord’s command.
Do you feel that no one loves you and there’s no use to try,
Just bring your cares to Jesus your soul he’ll satisfy:
Pick up the broken pieces and bring them to the Lord,
Pick up the broken pieces trust in his holy word.
He will put them back together and make your life complete,
Just place the broken pieces at the Saviour’s feet.’
Brian Bell is a diaconate member, Christ Church (Congregational) Abbots Cross, Northern Ireland, and a volunteer with Disabled Christians Fellowship Ireland. He describes himself as ‘grateful for the privilege and opportunity given me to serve my Lord.’ Link: firstname.lastname@example.org