Are you familiar with this text found in the book of Joel from the Old Testament?
“Then I will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the creeping locust, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust; My great army which I sent among you.” Joel 2:25
I am pretty sure the passage is primarily referring to God’s grace for those who lived in rebellion toward Him and have repented, but I also believe that God redeems and restores the time that we believers have lost while we were stuck wandering in our emotionally challenged ruts. You know what I mean – the old hurts and sorrows; the pain of losing a family member, a dear friend, even a job or a home. Big hurts – the ones that seem to paralyze, even destroy us. Some of these cataclysmic events can shut us down emotionally for a long time, and eventually, they can alter the way we deal with everything and everyone around us for many years. These, for me, are the years that the locusts have eaten. Does life have to stay this way? No – but we may be very reluctant to attempt to change things becuase we have learned a new, diminished way to live that seems to keep pain at bay. In fact, we may not see that anything needs changing, until we realize that we aren’t forming lasting relationships; that we are longing for a friend and don’t know how to make one. Ever heard stories of the old horse that can pull the milkman’s cart through town without any directions from a driver? I think that’s how we can get in our emotional life, too. We learn what works, and keep hauling the same old heavy cart behind us without any realization that things have changed and the work isn’t necessary any more. One surprising aspect of this milk-run way of life is that as long as we stay in this pattern, we make everybody who wants to get to know us come to us – we can’t get off the path to go to them. Very limiting to relationship building, and when you think about it, possibly quite selfish.
I believe we can’t get off our old well-worn paths without a good deal of irritation. An insect is a very useful thing here. I love the tweet that said, “If you don’t think small things can cause great change, spend the night in a room with a mosquito.” So, might it be that God sends locusts to bite our ankles, and anything else that might be available, while we are pacing to and for in our ever-deepening rut? Little locust soldiers swarming, creeping, stripping and gnawing away at our lives while we try to ignore them. In time, and by God’s grace, these attention getters cause us enough pain that we seek some help, and again by God’s grace, we may get some very amazing guidance; guidance that causes us to lift our heads up and look beyond our milk-run rut. Again, because God is in the restoration business, His grace may cause us to see that there are hundreds of different paths beyond our own secluded one, and, that there are people out there as well, offering the possibility of shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart relationships.
Once we begin to respond to God’s prompting, He can call off His attention-getting Locust Army and the restoration of the lost time begins: all the years we have spent alone, struggling to carry a heavy burden will be redeemed – exchanged – for years filled with the satisfaction of knowing Him,and others, in fullness. He’s amazing like that. Yep, it’s a zig-zag, up-and-down journey once we are off of the milk route, but at least He has started us in the right direction, and He’s walking with us – no locusts allowed.