When I was fifteen years old, my dad and I bought an old beat up 1976 Camaro from the high school auto shop. I was going to be driving soon, and if things worked out I’d have my own wheels and freedom! I was so excited.
If memory serves me right, we paid about $300 for it. It was in fair condition. It could be driven. But there were several things wrong with it, including it was in bad need of a paint job. Of course I only noticed what it looked like on the outside and I wasn’t so sure that the $300 was well spent. But it had good “bones”. And the interior was still pretty nice, although stained a bit. But my dad could see something in her that I couldn’t.
My dad and I spent the better part of a summer working on that Camaro, and bringing her back to life. He on the mechanics of it, and me helping with the stains on the interior and the frame. I remember spending hours sanding the metal down by dipping the sandpaper in water and then removing every bit of remaining paint left. We rubbed putty (or something of the sort) in every dent and then sanded that down. It was a grueling process that required attention to every detail. But that was the process that was required to make her new again. To repair the damage that had been done and make it whole once again.
Then finally… one day she was ready to paint and get the finishing touches put on. I had saved all summer long to be able to pay for the parts and the paint job that went into her (candy apple red!). And I couldn’t have been more proud of the work that we had done.
The day that we put “Old Red” on the road was one of the most exciting days of my life! All of our hard work had finally garnered the result that I craved. She wasn’t perfect, but she was mine, and that’s all that really mattered to me.
As I reflected on that restoration process these past few months, I have been reminded of all the processes of restoration that we all have to go through during our lives on this earth. We are all broken down, with a few stains here and there, in bad need of repair or “restoration”. And although we may feel like we are barely getting by, the Lord sees our “good bones”. He sees what the outcome can be with a little sanding here and a little putty there, and maybe a shiny new coat of paint.
I have spent a lot of time pondering and asking the Lord why? Why do I have to live with a bipolar diagnosis? Why is it that my body is broken down, stained and dented? What good is meant to come out of this? What’s the purpose?
And then I remembered the story of the Old Camaro and it came to me with perfect clarity. We come to Him (our Lord Jesus Christ), broken, beaten down, full of sorrow and He “restores” us.
When I was diagnosed bipolar, my life as I knew it ended. Everything changed. I went from feeling like nothing could stop me. To feeling like a broken shell of a person. I was struggling with finding the right medications, the right Dr., the right plan for recovery.
It was only when I laid all my fears at the feet of my Savior that true restoration began. Where I saw a broken shell, He saw the good bones. It has not been easy. It’s a long grueling process. From waiting for 6 weeks just to get into see the right Dr. and then ending up in the hospital again right before that appointment. Then waiting another 6 weeks to finally get in again. Then trying different medications, behaviors and habits that work for me and my body chemistry. A little sanding here and a little putty there. He truly has been my source of restoration.
Elder Holland, an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, once said, “I think of that night when Christ rushed to the aid of His frightened disciples, walking as He did on the water to get to them, calling out, “It is I; be not afraid.” Peter exclaimed, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.” Christ’s answer to him was as it always is every time: “Come,” He said. Instantly, as was his nature, Peter sprang over the vessel’s side and into the troubled waters. While his eyes were fixed upon the Lord, the wind could toss his hair and the spray could drench his robes, but all was well—he was coming to Christ. It was only when his faith wavered and fear took control, only when he removed his glance from the Master to look at the furious waves and the ominous black gulf beneath, only then did he begin to sink into the sea. In newer terror he cried out, “Lord, save me.”
Undoubtedly with some sadness, the Master over every problem and fear, He who is the solution to every discouragement and disappointment, stretched out His hand and grasped the drowning disciple with the gentle rebuke, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” Matthew 14:27–31
If you are lonely, please know you can find comfort. If you are discouraged, please know you can find hope. If you are poor in spirit, please know you can be strengthened. If you feel you are broken, please know you can be mended.” (May 2006 General Conference address).
We just need to reach out to Him and then keep our eyes fixed upon Him. He can restore us. He can bring us hope and peace and comfort. If we will let him. Because He loves us. Because He broke the bands of death. Because we are His!
We need not be fearful of the changes and trials that come into our lives. We need only to believe. Believe that He will come to us in His infinite power to restore us to our former state. Believe that He will bring us back to a state of health, soundness and vigor. It may not happen now, it may not happen in this lifetime. But it will happen. One day we will be restored in all our glory. Just like my dad and I restored Old Red. Our Savior will restore us, and He will take us out for a spin on the road and we will be His because that’s all that really matters to Him.