This morning, a favorite verse from Joel leapt off the page at me:
"So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,
The crawling locust,
The consuming locust,
And the chewing locust..." (Joel 2:25)
The context is an actual, very real invasion of locusts which had hit Israel, along with an extended drought which had left their kingdom weak. The different types of locusts mentioned are the different stages of development, or life cycle of the locust. That says to me that it had gone on for awhile, not just a swarm that came and left. Joel uses the physical disasters which had come upon them to highlight God's judgement which was to come upon them. The first two chapters of the book are a powerful portrait of God calling His people to repentance and the promise of forgiveness and blessing that would follow a "returning to the Lord your God."
I love that he promises to restore. But what caught my eye this morning was what He promised to restore. The crops that had been devoured? The revenue and resources? "I will restore to you the years..." Certainly they had lost all of the time and labor they had put into their crops and livelihood. To me it seems it would have been very characteristic of God's mercy to have said to them, "I will restore the crops the locusts have eaten." But I love how He says He will restore the years.
I can look back over the past year and see wasted money that I should've spent better, opportunities that I might have missed or think of things I meant to do but didn't. But what drives me the most crazy is when I realize I've wasted time. Time is such a limited commodity, and it is the great equalizer. We all have varying degrees of money and talent, but we each get the same 24 hours each day. What a powerful concept to think about... that our God restores time. How He does that is not for me to interpret or try to figure out, but I marvel at the fact that He can do it, and He has promised to do it for His people.
Have you had a season where something has been eating away at you? I have. There are two main areas in my life in which "locusts," in their various stages of development, have been chomping away. I thought of those areas today and in a spirit of repentance invited Him anew to restore, not just what's been eaten, but the years.
"You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
And praise the name of the Lord your God
Who has dealt wondrously with you;
And My people shall never be put to shame."