Loss and Restoration

By Kersley Fitzgerald

We live about four miles from the fire line. Four miles of suburbs and grassland, so we weren't really in any danger. Of course it did bring back memories of last year when our now-GQKidz editor lost her house. And we prayed hard for everyone we knew up there.

Of people I know personally, the only one who lost their home was our youth pastor—a 23-yo mystic who lived in the house he, his parents, and his brothers had spent the last several years building by hand. His entire family is very kingdom-oriented, almost to the point of being blasé about it. "I knew it was going to burn someday," he says. "I just didn't think it'd be this soon." The personification of S. Michael's article.

The first comment on that article was written by another friend who is naturally quite emotional and has experienced incredible loss this last year. She speaks to a side we need to consider, and consider what we're going to do about it. She mentioned that the emotional, which is tied to memories, often needs time to catch up with the logical mental side of things. I don't know for sure, but I think one of the keys may be restoration.

A month ago, we finally replaced my 14-yo Outback with a 2014 Forester. She is beautiful. She is blue and has a CVT, a sunroof that goes forever, a back-up camera, heated seats, the perfect roof rack for our kayaks, and she cost less than the used Outback we were looking at. She's so quiet you forget you're driving. And so smooth that JT wants to ride around in her just so he can take naps.

At least that's what I remember. I haven't driven her in almost two weeks. I had the time to make the light, but I didn't have the space. Apparently the large GMC van behind me disagreed and tried to help me along. My new beloved has been in the shop since then. (But you shoulda seen the other guy—busted grill and rad.) I'm now driving a large sedan that smells like the rental place couldn't decide which fragrance would best cover the stale cigarette smoke so they tried all of them.

I really wasn't that upset about it. I was immensely grateful it wasn't my fault; his insurance should cover everything. I had a stiff neck for just a couple of days, but there's no real injury. When I get it back, I figure it will be like getting a whole new car again. But I think it's mostly because I know that, whether they fix her or get me a new one, my car will be restored. I will not be forsaken. No matter how long I have to drive a rental I can barely see out of when I try to back up.

Still, I've never lost a house or all my stuff. I've had things stolen from me before—two bikes, clothes, junk jewelry. My greater losses are people-related. The worst is probably my dad.

Our office is a mix when it comes to dads. Some think their dad is the best ever. Some have a little bit of a strain in their relationship. Others got along with them fine, but lost them, whether as a child or an adult. My story's a little different in my dad was a horribly wounded person who self-destructed to the point of suicide.

For the second Fathers' Day in a row, Dev and JT were out of town. On one level I understood it was Fathers' Day, but on another I wasn't prepared. Casual mentions at church, homages on FaceBook—they all caught me off-guard. I skipped the lunch invites for other people's fathers and went home.

That's when I was reminded, once again, that I have a Father. One who is as real as any earthly father, but never leaves. One who never gets sick, never says the wrong thing, never lets expectations get in the way of love. One who, even if my dad never reached heaven (although I believe he did), already restored my loss.

Houses and cars have insurance. Friends donate clothes and silverware and Christmas decorations. The promise of future joy covers the rest. It covers everything. Hebrews 12:2 says that Jesus endured the cross (humiliation, pain, separation from Father God) because of the "joy set before Him." He knew there was restoration on the other side.

He promises the same for us. In Mark 10:29-30, He says anyone who lost family or home for His sake will be restored a hundred times. Unfortunately, it includes persecutions, but it also includes eternal life.

Jesus promises restoration of what we need—the best things—not necessarily things we value now like that house or that much money, or even safety. As my friend was talking about the loss of his house and how little time he had to gather things, he said he regretted that he forgot his old journals and his drawings. I don't know what they meant to him, but I imagine they represented the journey of his relationship with Christ and the manifestation of his creativity. The paper is gone—burned to ash. His journey and his creativity have never been more alive. And when he reaches heaven, they will be fully restored. He will see clearly how he came to be so in love with Jesus. He will be able to express his creativity in ways he's never imagined.

I don't think there are very many people out there who are so aligned with the Kingdom of God that they aren't emotionally attached to their things. It is a process, and one that takes time and deliberate effort. But I think that the promise of restoration—the "joy set before us"—helps. The loss of my father was restored before he died. My truck should be restored later this week. The joy we lose on earth will be restored in eternity. That seems so over and above to me. God could have said "My grace is sufficient for you" (2 Corinthians 12:9). Suck it up. It doesn't matter. Instead, He says, Some of it does matter, and the stuff that does, you'll get it back. A hundred-fold, even.

Restoration isn't everything. But remembering it's out there is at least a step.

How have you seen restoration in the face of an unfathomable loss?

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Published 6-17-13