I will gather you. I will bring you home.

I’m reading Zephaniah–a book of the Bible I haven’t read in a while. I read from the same Bible I read as a college girl, so I can see my notes and thoughts on certain passages from as far back as 1994. Back then, this verse mattered deeply to me as a promise to all of God’s children.

I will give them praise and honor
    in every land where they have suffered shame.
At that time I will gather you;
    at that time I will bring you home.
I will give you honor and praise
    among all the peoples of the earth
when I restore your fortunes
    before your very eyes,”
says the Lord.

I thought about the nature of God to always restore praise and honor in places of shame. I thought about how He gathers the lost and the wandering and the fractured pieces of our own hearts and brings us home. Home: the place where you’ve always belonged; the place of acceptance and favor and delight; the place of true rest and comfort; the place of joy and safety. I noted then how God always restores. He is a restorer of all we’ve lost and One who brings fortune in place of impoverished areas both within us and without.

Back then, I had no good understanding of theology or what this passage actually meant for the nation of Israel. Was it a prophecy about heaven? As I grew in my understanding of scripture, I learned to always read the now-and-not-yet. I learned that the work is already beginning within us now to be fulfilled fully in eternity. I learned to seek out the unchanging character of God reflected in passages I couldn’t understand completely.

So all I knew back then was that the God I was following could turn shame to honor. He makes the lost found. He gives the poor His riches. And I loved Him more and more.

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