Locusts don’t invade wheat farms in southcentral Kansas.
At least they didn’t when I was growing up there. But plenty of other pests did.
And grasshoppers sure could make a mess of a family garden overnight. Now as a resident of wooded northwest Arkansas, I’ve learned a placid deer family can decimate a suburban yard of prized hostas in short order.
Mom used her fair share of Co-op chemicals to fight the garden battle. Even with deer-off spray, nets, and a fast ‘n fierce wiener dog, my husband and I can’t seem to win.
All those years ago, grasshoppers ate into our canning reserves for the year: pickles and okra, corn and green beans. Now deer eat into our landscape aesthetic and wreck it until the next Spring. In both cases, we’ve been powerless to restore our labor-infused plantings.
In the Old Testament, God promises the people of Israel that He will make things right again, despite the disaster of a four-year locust invasion:
“I will restore to you the years that the swarming locusts have eaten.” Joel 2:25.
Seems strange comfort in the middle of crushing uncertainty.
From my journal:
I am four years into this disease. Just a year ago, I had heart failure with restored EF, but now I’m back down to heart failure with reduced EF. Despite my survival, I can’t help but feel that these years have been wasted somehow. Four years of diligence for nothing…titrating meds, eliminating sodium, dealing with constant fatigue, rearranging my life. All futile water under the bridge. And would this be a different story if I had acknowledged the symptoms years ago?
Years the locusts have eaten.
Like annual crops and hosta, years that have been eaten are gone for good.
Time passes and never returns.
We all feel a disappointed pang when we glance in the rearview mirror. For most of us, that mirror is splattered with locusts and the irreparable damage they have caused. We all see reflections of years we could have lived differently, or better.
Locust years are years that beg for a mulligan, a do-over, a second run at it. I spend plenty of time writing about being on a path I didn’t choose. But sometimes because of missed opportunities or poor choices, we find ourselves on a path we did choose and we carry heavy regret.
God knows this, and He has made a way to make it new again. Whether our past locust years number in the single digits or in the sixties, whether by misguided choice or by unchosen circumstance, God promises to redeem them all.
Whether our past locust years number in the single digits or in the sixties, whether by misguided choice or by unchosen circumstance, God promises to redeem them all. Click To Tweet
But He promises even more.
Locust years are also future years that have been taken from us because of what has happened. Maybe we lost a loved one far too soon, a crumbled marriage deprived us of a lifelong companion, a failed career or business venture robbed us of a secure retirement. Or, maybe like me, the illness locusts have swarmed in.
Losses can affect far more than our past. Because of what we have lost, our future is threatened, too.
On our family farm, Dad would save some of his best wheat crop as seed for the following planting season. If hail or drought or even too much rain ruined a year’s harvest, it also affected the seed that would grow future ones. A bad year could reach far into the future.
Locust invasions in the bible had a similar multi-year impact. For the Israelites, the harvest was wiped out for four straight years. Grape vines and fruit trees took years to re-establish and bear fruit again. The grain harvest lost for the current year robbed seeds from the next.
Our devastation can span many years as well. We need God to restore not only our past but also our future. The problem is, our current loss often blinds us.
Writer Scott Hubbard says, “Our worst days have a way of burying the mercies of God in our past and darkening the promises of God for our future.”
What has happened can create regret for the past and also destroy our hope for the future.
But Jehovah is a God of wonders. He promises what seems impossible.
He is promising to fill the bare stalks of remorse in our souls.
He is promising to make our foggy future bright with hope.
He is promising restoration.
“Restore” is to bring back, reinstate, make good as new. As if it never happened.
As if the locusts had never invaded.
As if heart failure, or cancer, or MS had never been the diagnosis.
As if the opportunity had never been squandered.
As if the relationship had never ended.
That’s how our God’s grace-filled heart works. Not just compensated for, not just making it up to us in some sort of counter-balancing way. But restoration, as if it never happened.
That’s how our God’s grace-filled heart works. Not just compensated for, not just making it up to us in some sort of counter-balancing way. But restoration, as if it never happened. Click To Tweet
Our God is unbound by time. He can completely redeem both our past and our future. God works everything together to restore what sin and a broken world have cost us. Whatever the locusts have done to destroy our testimony or the life of a prodigal we know, He is ready to restore it all. On both sides of time.
It is His nature and it is His heart. And above all, it is His promise.
Charles Spurgeon says of locust years, “This promise is only fulfilled by the exceeding grace of God.” If we can release our grip on the pen, not only will God write our story, but His grace will right it, too.
Standing in a locust-stripped field, or a grasshopper-invaded garden, or even just a deer-decimated yard, restoration can seem a long way off. But God sees us. He knows our story. Right now, heaven and earth are being moved by a faithful God who has already determined the outcome of our situation.
God sees us. He knows our story. Right now, heaven and earth are being moved by a faithful God who has already determined the outcome of our situation. Click To Tweet
And He’s got a long list of references from His restoration business:
- Moses: Murderer chosen by God to lead the Israelites out of slavery
- David: Adulterer who became a man after God’s own heart
- Rahab: Prostitute whose bloodline produced the Son of God
- Paul: Christian-killer who authored most of the New Testament
- Zacchaeus: Despised tax collector who left a faithful legacy for his family
Forgiveness, grace, and the resurrection itself are based on restoration. In fact, the entire bible is the story of God restoring man’s relationship to Him. Of making both our past and future good as new again. As if the disaster never happened.
Seems we can trust that He’s got these locust years.
Meanwhile, I’ll keep rewarding my little dachshund for chasing Bambi’s extended family out of my front yard.