I’m not a fan of creepy, crawly things. Especially when I’m not expecting them. Like the stink bug that suddenly appeared in my kitchen, buzzing over the kitchen table this week. (He ended up in the kitchen drain, hopefully far, far away by now.) Or the spider that suddenly crawled over my book lying on the floor. Roaches are my most despised! When I see one, just one, I’m picking up the phone to call pest control!!
So, when my pastor preached on locusts and restoration from the book of Joel this past Sunday, and showed an image of a life-sized locust on the screen, I felt an involuntary shudder work its way through my body.
I can’t imagine living through a plague of locusts. But, that really is what my life was like seven years ago. Oh, not a literal swarm of locusts, but figuratively speaking it perfectly fit my life. Five years ago, I lay surrounded by the “locust” devastation at Pine Crest Inn.
Pine Crest Inn Bed and Breakfast sits nestled in woods at the back of a quiet residential neighborhood in Tryon, NC. It is listed on the National Historic Registry of Bed and Breakfasts and is highly rated on TripAdvisor for good reason. The elegant dining, natural habitat, beautifully appointed rooms and friendly hosts provide a peaceful retreat for rest, renewal and reflection.
I found my way to Pine Crest Inn at the recommendation of Pavilon, a drug rehabilitation center where my 20-year old son had just been admitted. The Inn offered discounts to family members of patients at Pavilon, and I needed a place to process the emotional pain I was in. From the moment I stepped out of my car, I knew this was a place of healing.
As soon as I found my room and arranged my things, I fell in a heap on the floor weeping uncontrollably. I stayed there for hours. Pain like I’ve never experienced before radiated from within. For two years, I had struggled to save my son from himself, from his destructive choices. And now I was letting go of every dream I ever had for my son and his future. I grieved the lost dreams, the loss of innocence, the loss of who I thought my son would be.
I processed a myriad of emotions that weekend. Shame. Regret. Sorrow. Uncertainty. And extreme relief that someone else would be shouldering the burden of my son’s problems for the next six weeks or more.
Three months prior, God gave me a promise. In the midst of my struggle to know what to do, He said to me, “I will restore the years the locusts have eaten.” I thought it was a verse from the Bible, but I wasn’t sure. I had heard it mentioned somewhere. And sure enough, I found it in the book of Joel, Joel 2:25.
At the time, not only was I dealing with a son addicted to drugs, but the grief of my husband dying a year earlier from brain cancer. My life had truly been devastated. A swarm of locusts had appeared out of nowhere, eating everything in its path. The landscape around me was stripped bare.
I held onto the promise of restoration through the next three difficult months before taking my son to rehab. On January 27, 2014, five years ago this week, I began to see God’s hand of restoration at work! My son went through the difficult months of rehabilitation and completed the program in late August of that year, moving to his own place.
In July of 2014, Lane and I began communicating and rekindling our friendship from high school and college. Months later, we began officially dating. On June 28, 2015, Lane and I were married on a beautiful, sun-kissed day surrounded by green, lush vegetation and dear family and friends. God not only began restoring my son back to health, but He was restoring me and giving me a beautiful new relationship.
Talk about restoration! The rest of the locust passage in Joel 2 says: “I will restore the years the locusts have eaten–the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm….You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you;……Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the Lord your God, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed.” Joel 2:25-27.
The restoration is not complete. For my son it is a process. After leaving his drug abuse behind, he turned to alcohol, which became his new drug of choice. He has struggled to manage this on his own. The last five years have been up and down for him, but he has steadily gained ground. Two weeks ago, he voluntarily checked himself into a recovery program for alcoholism. And I believe that was totally God, showing up and helping my son see he can’t control this on his own!
Honestly, I’m still a work in progress. Aren’t we all? The final restoration won’t happen here on earth. I will be fully restored when I leave this earth to meet my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and my Heavenly Father in a place prepared for me for eternity. “I go to prepare a place for you…..” A place where there will be “no more pain, no more tears, no more sorrow.”
Until that day, I continue to hold onto the promise that God is restoring “the years the locusts have eaten” in my son’s life, and in my life. I thank God for the blessings He has given me and answered prayers I have witnessed in the past five years!
And if you come humbly before the Father, seeking restoration and wholeness, this promise is for you, too:-).
God didn’t promise a “bug” free life. (Sure would be nice, though.) He just promises to be with us and restore what is lost in His time and according to His Will!
We can’t predict when a swarm of locusts might appear on the horizon, but we can know without a shadow of a doubt, God will take us through it, and that He is the God of restoration:-).
Dear Heavenly Father,
I thank you and praise you for the restoration you have brought about in my life. You are trustworthy. You keep your promises. Not in my time frame, but in Yours, to bring about your purpose and further your kingdom. Continue to bring healing and restoration to my son’s life, and to my dear friends reading this who desperately need You to restore what the “locusts” have destroyed in their lives.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.