Before Arie came home- and even before we started his adoption- I often listened to a song called "Mended" by Watermark. My favorite line was this:
We will dance as You restore the wasted years...
I don't know for sure, but it seems like the line is inspired by God's promise to his people in Joel 2:25. The chapter describes a terrible locust plague that will come on God's people, decimating every ripening crop and inch of fertile land and, in turn, starving the people who depend on that land for survival. After the awful description of this coming disaster, God makes a promise to all those who are faithful to him:
"I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten...
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;
never again will my people be shamed" (vs. 25-26).
I will repay you for the years.... or: I will restore the years. Our God is a God of restoration. In my infertility and then adoption journey I often wondered how God would restore the wasted years. The year I spent longing for a pregnancy and was left empty. More importantly, the 29 months I spent motherless while my son waited for us to come to him. The mother's breast he was never offered. The warm skin-to-skin he never felt. The sound of a daddy's voice welcoming him to the world, he never heard. The crib at in his own room he never lay in. The familiar sounds of home- the whistle of a kettle or the family dog pawing at the back door- he never heard. How would God restore that for him?
How would God restore that for me? The fact that I never got to smell his newborn skin or soothe his teething gums with a cold cloth. I didn't get to watch him pull himself up on the crib rails for the first time or teach him how to crawl up our front porch steps. Two and a half years, eaten by locust. How would God restore those wasted years?
"You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the LORD your God who has done wonders for you."
The locusts have eaten the harvest and that can't be undone, but as for the future? The Lord is filling us up, me and Arie alike.
A little boy who was once without a family now runs into loving arms and my once empty ears now ring with the sound of his joyful cry: Mama!
His little body which at first leaned out and away when carried after months of having to walk on his own, now curls up close to mine, safe and happy on my hip.
Where he first anxiously wiped every speck of misplaced yogurt on his face or crumb on his chin quickly away, he now eats and spills like a typical two year old (and furrows his brow when I wipe his face).
He's learned it's okay to sometimes let go of the stroller when we go for walks with my daycare kids. He's learning to RUN through the open fields at the park with his Papa.
He's asking for "moi!" (more!) at mealtimes and he's getting humorously upset when his special treats are "all gone."
He's monkeying around at bedtime and starting to crawl into ours for cuddles in the morning.
He's learning how to be taken care of. He's learning how to receive grace. He's eating his fill of a family love harvest after 29 months of locusts plagues sucking the soil dry.
In watching my little boy devour our love until he's full, I'm feasting too. The sight of his smile, the blink of his crescent eyes, the scent of his honey skin after bath, the melody of his footsteps on my floor, and the warmth of his hands cupping my face- they are the restoration of my wasted years. Like that line from my favored song- my spirit is dancing as my God restores the wasted years.
I am praising the name of the LORD my God who has worked wonders for me.
Our God is a God of restoration, indeed.