Monday, April 14, 2003
I had an 18-hour layover in Rome, a city I had never been in before. My missionary friend was willing to take me on a whirlwind tour, rainy day and all. We began at the ruins of the ancient Coliseum, a must-see for all of us Rome tourists. I left most of my luggage in an airport locker, but I was carrying my camera and my personal bag over one shoulder, an umbrella in one hand, and my camera in the other hand. Suddenly, we were surrounded by a small gang of pre-teen street kids - many of whom, as I learned later, frequent that area to hit up tourists like me. As they encircled us and started chattering and grabbing at us, I tried to make sure they didn't get any of my things. My friend got rid of them with a brandishing of his umbrella. We were about a block past the point of our encounter, when a dark-haired little girl came running after us, waving something blue in her hand. It was my passport! It had been in the vest pocket in my coat. It had somehow dropped out in all the confusion, unbeknownst to me. She handed it to me and then she ran away. God bless her.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Getting Back What You Lost."
Imagine the mess I would have been in without the passport. And I didn't even know I had lost it. There are lots of things in life like that - valuable things that we lose without ever realizing at the time what we've lost until it's too late. Treasures like your reputation, your virginity, a clean conscience, your marriage, a valued relationship, your sense of worth, people's trust in you. We did the wrong thing because of what we thought we could gain by sinning. We never realized what we would lose.
The day I lost my passport, thank God, someone gave it back to me. And, thank God, there is someone who is an amazing restorer of what sin has cost us. In Joel 2:25, our word for today from the Word of God, the Lord makes a wonderful promise to His ancient people, one which also describes the kind of thing He's done for so many of us after we gave ourselves to Jesus. God says, "I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten." Those locusts were a punishment for their sins. But on the other side of their repenting and God's forgiving, He says He will restore what they lost to sin. Jesus is still doing that today. He wants to do that for you.
In describing how the devil wants to ruin us, Jesus said, "The thief comes to steal and to kill and to destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." Replacing what Satan killed with His life-giving restoration. That's what Jesus does. He can do that because He gave everything on the cross to erase your sin-debt with God and to break its choke hold on your life.
Jesus is the restorer of lost marriages, of shattered relationships, of stained reputations, of lost dignity. The Inventor of sex has power to restore to those who have sinned sexually their emotional and spiritual virginity, along with much of the specialness of sex that was lost. The restoring of what was lost starts when you decide to abandon your sin and give yourself to this One who gave Himself for you on the cross. If you'd like for today to be Day One of your new beginning, your personal relationship with the Great Forgiver, the Great Restorer, tell Him, "Jesus, I'm Yours." If that's what you want, I'd like to send you my booklet, "Yours For Life," which is all about this new beginning. Just let me know you want it.
You've lost some things that really matter. But Jesus comes to you and says, "I want to give back to you what sin has stolen." Imagine - He not only forgives you, as awesome as that is. He restores you!