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‘Restoration community’ – PF Support Team

I recently came across these verses in Isaiah and found them quite comforting. The theme coming through the passage is one of restoration with promises to ‘repair’ and ‘rebuild’; something I feel like we would all like to hear. I think this has particular resonance when we look at this passage through the lens of community.

Although this theme of restoration is more pervasive in the later verses, I’d first like to draw your attention to verse 10: I find this a helpful reminder to us that when we live in community and care for others around us, our night ‘will become like the noonday.

But I also think there is a potential trap we can sometimes fall into. Sometimes, I feel like we can approach these declarations as treaties rather than common sense. If I do X, Y and Z, then A, B and C will happen to me. I don’t think it’s quite that. What if this is saying that as we live in community and build those relationships with others, others will build those relationships with us? So when we feel like we’re in a dark place and really going through it, others will live in community with us, and uplift and support us in our darkness.

I love the imagery that comes through in verse 11. We all know what it feels like to be thirsty. It’s a clever metaphor because we understand both the physical sensation of quenching our own thirst and the visual image of a well-watered garden in a sun-scorched land.

I am sure you can agree with me that sometimes living in community can be hard work. Existing side-by-side with people can cause friction and discomfort. I like this reminder that God is there as our guide. He encourages us to draw on His life-giving sustenance so we can reflect His compassion and grace to those around us.

And the natural impact of this? Again, remembering that it is not a treaty, it is a consequence! I feel like The Message version of verse 12 best sums it up:

This is such a tangible example that is just as relevant today as when this verse was written. When we use the old, the broken, the stuff no one else wants, God blesses it and helps us take this junk and build something beautiful, necessary and life-giving. Not just for ourselves, but for others. And all coming from the rubble and pain of previous hurt.

That’s the basis of so many of the stories and testimonies we hear from those in our prison work. So often we can see examples of dark, painful, broken situations. Things that you might think ‘well there’s no coming back from this, this is game over.’ And somehow, God can take that wreckage and use us to transform the situation into something else entirely. And something that doesn’t just help to restore us, but uplifts and brings hope to those around us.

The Bible says we will be known as those who can fix anything. I love that image of us in our work. And this is all symbiotic. As we do the ‘right things’ like caring for and championing others around us, the consequences are that we ourselves are built up when we struggle. And, as we call on God to give us strength, we will be able to restore, rebuild and renovate the broken things around us into something that blesses each of us.

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The PF Support Team wrote this month’s devotional.

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