“I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. ”
Ironically, as I sit to type some thoughts on this passage, my kitchen table is being inundated with small, winged insects of some sort. How they got into my house, I do not know; however, I must assume that this sudden abundance of wildlife is one of the perks of living in a house that is nearly twenty years old. At least they are better companions than the skunk who rather memorably visited our duct work one February in the predawn hours…
At any rate, I find great comfort in the somewhat unusual promise of Joel 2:25. Granted, I am not a farmer and my entire livelihood or survival does not rest on whether or not my granaries are full for the winter. However, in a metaphorical sense, I have had a very valuable resource consumed by things no less devastating and greedy than locusts. What I lost was not food but time.
I am no longer a young woman. In fact, the bulk of my youthful years are those that I now lament, the ones devoured by ridiculous and wanton waste. I am reminded of the gloriously long stretches of absolutely free time that I squandered back in those days, and I am particularly reminded of them when I try to squeeze in an article or work on a seemingly endless novel in the brief, often stolen spaces of time when my family is all occupied with other things and the housework can wait a bit.
But the worst of it is when I think of all the time I used to have in which I could have been studying my Bible, learning more and more of my Lord and His ways. Had I been properly aligned, I might have already achieved mastery in Hebrew and possibly even Greek and been able to read my Lord’s words in the languages in which they were originally penned. As it is now, the study of Hebrew is one step forward and forty-two back while Greek still remains… well, it’s all Greek to me.
But I persevere because I know that when my desires are to know more of my King, He will fulfill them. The locusts may have consumed my best years, but He will restore them in some fashion or another. Indeed, He has already begun.
But the awakening of knowledge of the Lord did not start with mere wanting on my part. It began, just as the promise in verse 25 begins, with repentance. Let’s look back a few lines in chapter 2 of Joel:
“Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments. “Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. . .” Joel 2:12-13
I would never expect my God to restore anything which I still look upon fondly. If I were to look at the sins of my youth with an amused shrug, I do not believe He would have so quickly filled what was lacking in my understanding of Him and of His Kingdom. It was my crushing sorrow, my mourning for the waste of my youth, and my turning away from those things in horror and loathing and turning fully to Him that began the restoration.
I am grateful that He abounds in steadfast love, that He is gracious and merciful. And with each passing year, I am thankful that He continues to increase my desire for Him and to open my eyes and humble my heart with the light of His Word. For my greatest longing is to accurately portray Him and fully experience Him, to live as a fully surrendered servant of Christ; in short, to die to myself and live for Christ.
Not that I have obtained it, but I press on to make it my own. And in my spiritual hunger, I am sincerely thankful that the King of kings continues to restore the years the locust has eaten.