He restores my soul. Psalm 23:3
The thought of restoration implies the bringing back to a proper state: to reinstate or to revive. We may restore a lost treasure to its owner or be restored by a cup of coffee. To restore a patient to life may be first to resuscitate him and later to send him home in full health and vigour. he is then doubly restored.
For a soul to be restored suggests that it was either lost or lacking lustre. Our Creator made us to have fellowship with him and to be in his image. An illustration of his intention is the rapt and adoring gaze of young infants as they respond to the smiling faces of their parents. that unclouded, radiant love is what he longs to see in us -- his love reflected back from our souls to him and through our lives to others. The image is spoilt by anything that intrudes upon this central relationship. Between humans, a preoccupation with one's own affairs dislodges attention from the other person. In spiritual terms, estrangement develops when we become independent of him, bent on having our own way, or so immersed in our daily routine that we stop the habit of looking and listening to him.
When, for the first time, a person realises that life has no focus or purpose, to hear then that the Shepherd has laid down his life in seeking to find and to save (Jn 10:11) and that he longs to restore the broken relationship may be what brings about conversion and starts the wonderful process of restoration into his image. yet this is only the beginning -- the resuscitation. From then on, Christians continue to need day-by-day restoration. His image in us will fade at any point of departure from his path or disobedience to his will. As a human shepherd pursues and assists his bleating, wandering sheep, so our heavenly Shepherd does the same for us. As the one disentangles from brambles and attends to minor wounds, so the Other releases and cleanses from all that dims his image. The way to restoration is for us to respond to his searching, sacrificial love and to clear it all up with him in that atmosphere. To shift the gaze from self to him brings repentance and renewal and has us following wholeheartedly once again.
Perverse and foolish oft I strayed;
But yet in love he sought me,
And on his shoulder gently laid,
And home, rejoicing, brought me.
H W Baker
Further reading: Lk 15:3-7, 11-24. Ps 51.