The Whole Thing

Van1When he pulled back the car cover from his newest project I was transported to another place and time. The smell of tanning butter and board wax was accompanied by the sound of lapping waves and squawking seagulls. This was any surfer’s dream ride.

Talk about your magic bus!

A 1967 Dodge A-108. Cream colored with classic aqua trim and the interior was fully decked in gorgeous wood panels. A tiny matching camper trailer would trail behind this beauty and a massive longboard was being refinished to ride atop. She was one-of-a-kind unique.

Her story was special too.

One of my brother’s best buddies, Terrell Brinson, found the old Dodge sitting in the back lot of a classic car dealership in a small Tennessee town. In his words, she was “tired and abused.” But this wasn’t Terrell’s first rodeo when it comes to classic cars.

He saw what this van could be, not what it was. That vision drove the purchase and subsequent full restoration of this made-for-the-surf whip.

Van2Coming from the Florida coastal county that has produced Kelly Slater, the Hobgood brothers as well as Quiet Flight and Coil boards, it was not hard to picture this buggy skimming the beaches in search of dakine waves. It would be as big a hit in my town today as the day she was born on that Detroit assembly line.

Restoring an old car is really about making it complete–as close to original specifications and appearance as possible. These restorers often look long and hard for original parts and authentic colors to replicate what the vehicle looked, felt and operated like when it was new.

This is rescuing the ride from the decaying effects of its environments; reversing the destructive results of its use; and renewing the original intent of its creator. The desire is to make the automobile whole again.

Much like the moment Terrell unveiled the A-108, I recently felt a sense of  awe reading these words from the Apostle Paul: “Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” (2 Cor. 13:11, NIV).

Paul was writing to a church characterized by disintegrated lifestyles and dysfunctional relationships. Fragmented and fractured, they were living nowhere near their full potential or designed intention. His challenge to them, “strive for full restoration”–not a face-lift or a paint-job…fully restored both as individuals and a community to the original intent of the Creator.

Our goal as believers is not to tweak our flesh and adjust our lifestyle so that we look finer, sound nicer and behave better. Our aim is a full body-off restoration…remade to the original designer’s specifications.

It’s the “whole” thing.

The word used here for “full restoration” (katarizo) means to complete…to repair what is broken; to re-integrate and re-make something as it ought to be now. It is a compound word that unites two concepts: movement–from higher to lower (kata); and fitting according to aptitude (artios).

It is rebuilding your life according to the particular plan God had in mind when He dreamed you up and put you together in your mother’s womb.

This word has some interesting uses in the New Testament. It is used of:

  • The disciples “mending” their nets. Matt 4:21
  • A student becoming like the teacher. Lk 6:40
  • Rescue and recovery of a fallen leader. Gal 6:1
  • Putting the pieces together after one has suffered. 1 Peter 5:10

So restoration is about:

  • recapturing purpose–like mended nets that can be returned to maximum effectiveness, mended lives can be restored to meaningful existence
  • reproducing passion–like a good student accurately reflects the entirety of the professor, a restored life authentically reveals the whole heart of the Savior
  • rescuing potential–like a weapon salvaged and renewed can be deadly efficient as it returns to battle, a restored leader can be deadly effective in the battle for souls
  • regaining promise–like a limb that has been shattered is stronger in the broken places, a restored life is the most potent at the site of the scars

God has always been into restoring what is broken. When He created the universe out of existent chaos it was knit together according to His plan (same word, Heb 11:3).

In restoration, He utilizes the power that raised Jesus from His tomb (Heb 13:20-23). The same energy God released when He kicked open the grave and reanimated the lifeless corpse of His only-begotten Son, is released in our behalf to wake us from death and revitalize life.

In His community, He integrates Gifts that raise people from inferiority to maturity (Eph 4:11ff). God designed a plurality of gifts within His community to function together in creating an atmosphere which frees and an environment which feeds His children. Freedom and fullness are what characterize a restored people.

The idea behind the “whole” thing is that there is for each of us a divine plan with original blueprint in Heaven. Our aim, goal and life-movement should be to embrace that design and shape our lives according to it.

Wholeness is when we are fully integrated and adapted to the divine design–life lived in harmony with our created attributes and aptitudes. We are whole when we are living in sync with how we were made.

Your gifts, aptitudes, personality and desires–when redeemed from the corrupting influences of sin–are perfectly designed and fit together to enable you to do in the earth what will give God the greatest pleasure and you the deepest satisfaction.

Restoration is central to the gospel. This is no sideline activity or spiritual hobby devoted to those with life-controlling problems (i.e. “Recovery”). This is the crux and core of what it means to be a “saved” and saving people.

When we are restored to fellowship with God we rediscover our lost destiny and redevelop our lacking vision. The gifts and callings God had in mind when He knit us together are re-integrated and we are enabled to live whole lives of holy purpose.

“May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. The One who called you is completely dependable. If he said it, he’ll do it!” (1 Thess 5:23-24)

He doesn’t want us to stop short and settle for partial healing.

He wants us to experience the “whole” thing.

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