While each of us has been created in the image of God, we possess a disfigured and distorted version of God’s image. One thing we lost in the Fall was a sense of completeness – a wholeness. When Jesus said, “Be perfect,” (Matt. 5:48), He was inviting and exhorting us to seek completeness – to develop, grow, mature into the wholeness we have lost. Apostle Paul said it this way: “Aim for restoration” (2 Cor. 13:11 ESV). This is what our souls need most.

This restoration theme is powerfully illustrated in the Book of Nehemiah. Four and a half centuries before Christ, Israel was a defeated nation and Jerusalem had lost its former glory. Few Jews lived in and around the city with its broken down walls. The rocky rubble reminded the people, daily, of how they failed God and allowed outside influences to corrupt their lives. They were a distressed people living with a heavy burden of fear and shame.

Nehemiah prayed that God would restore the Israelites’ identity as the people of God. Soul restoration was dramatically symbolized in the slow but intentional rebuilding of the city walls. One by one, rock after rock was recovered, reshaped and reset during the long rebuilding process while doubters cried out, “Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubble?” (Neh. 4:2)

Catch the metaphor – our lives may include heaps of broken down ‘stones’, rocky relationships, heavy memories, sharp-edged regrets, even a crushed identity. We may carry the burden of a wounded past, stumble over a troubled present, and quietly despair about our future. But David the psalmist was familiar with similar conditions and was able to boldly cry out, “He restores my soul.” (Psm. 23:3)

Restoration happens. Rock by rock can be retrieved, our character rebuilt, our wounds healed, our true selves revealed. Our shattered dreams are the ‘stones’ which God can reshape and revive into a solid life-in-Christ. The Holy Spirit will do the heavy lifting if we open our hearts and heed Paul’s exhortation, “Aim for restoration.” But the key is to open our hearts and cooperate with the Lord.