Do you ever wish you could turn back time and give the younger version of you the knowledge you’ve gained about life? I do. At times it feels like there’s a film playing in my head that I can’t stop. I keep rewinding it and hoping that I’ll say something different so the outcome changes… but it doesn’t. I don’t know what would have happened in any of the scenarios if I’d made a different decision. In fact, I won’t ever know. But what I do know is that I feel as though that time was eaten up by the wrong decisions.
“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you.” (Joel 2:25)
Agriculture was vital for the Israelites. It’s how they survived. God’s judgement meant that the locusts left nothing untouched; they undid months of labour and caused years worth of damage. The scale of devastation to the crops was quite simply unparalleled (Joel 1:2-4). The worst part is that the Israelites should have expected it, and could have prevented it. Deuteronomy 28 outlines a series of consequences for disobedience, including: “you shall carry much seed out to the field but gather little in, for the locust shall consume it” (v38). They obviously didn’t think God was being serious because they happily persisted in disobedience despite the risk of locusts (and the other consequences in that chapter).
Do you live as though the consequences of sin are real? Or are you hoping that God is bluffing?
The Israelites deserved to have their crops decimated by locusts. They brought it on themselves and God was simply honouring His word. Therefore, He was not obligated to facilitate restoration. Something tells me the Israelites were probably more concerned about the wasted labour than their sins. However, if the they had been faithful, there wouldn’t have been any locusts. What makes Joel 2:25 so beautiful is that we see God’s fairness juxtaposed with His grace. Despite the fact He didn’t have to bring restoration (nor did they deserve it), He still wanted to.
For the Israelites, the locusts and crops were real. Nevertheless, this passage is still relevant today because you’ll probably encounter metaphorical locusts which damage figurative crops. These locusts manifest in any shape or form and cause destruction on account of your disobedience; for example: procrastination, addictions, or poor associations (friendship or romantic). However, unlike the locusts in Joel 2:25 – they aren’t a judgement from God, you allowed them to wreak havoc in your life. Perhaps you’re currently trying to recover from a ‘locust’ and you’re disheartened by the wasted time. Time which could have been spent more fruitfully but has been tainted or consumed by a locust.
You can’t change the past, but you can prevent it from repeating itself.
Since God is able and willing to restore the years that any locust has eaten – don’t dwell on the damage. Focus on ensuring that you don’t allow the same locust (or any other locust) to cause further damage in the future. God has the capacity to forget your sins (Isaiah 43:25), but you don’t. So despite His efforts of restoration, you’ll still maintain a mental record of what happened. Wouldn’t it be better to simply be obedient so you don’t have to keep recovering from the damage the locusts cause? You might argue that the damage some locusts inflict is negligible, or the magnitude of their destruction is irrelevant. However, God never intended for you to encounter any locusts… least of all those which you invited.
- Identify your locusts – metaphorical locusts come in all shapes and sizes. Until you know what yours are, you won’t know what to avoid.
- Focus on plan A (obedience) – restoration is plan B, but it won’t be needed if you’re committed to obedience.
- Forgive yourself – God doesn’t hold your past against you… neither should you. Especially if that’s what is preventing you from starting a clean slate.
Although it wasn’t mentioned in this blog post, don’t forget that God can also bring restoration for things which happened to you, rather than because of you i.e. things that aren’t your fault.
Keep your locusts in check so you don’t live with a multitude of regrets. God can still bring restoration in spite of your bad decisions. However, you should use your negative experiences wisely to minimise the chance of repetition.
I keep seeing a quote that’s rather pertinent to this blog post:
“Don’t be afraid to start over again, this time, you’re not starting from scratch, you’re starting from experience.” – Unknown