It's in the air.
Renewal is in the air. My yellow car is a vivid confirmation of it. So are these swollen sinus canals, dripping noses, scratchy throats, and watery eyes. Yellow honey-suckle buds color the ground still gray and brown before winter's annual thaw. Grass is poking through the hard soil, trees are sprouting new growth, and the grumpy lady down the street has been humming happy tunes. As promised in Scripture, God's creation is dawning a new season.
While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day
and night, shall not cease.
And, it's more than pollen, green leaves, fruit in season, and the evidences so visible to those of us in the human species. This renewal happens at a level much deeper than our physical senses. God's ecosystem synchronizes the animal kingdom, weather dynamics, and the miracles of mother earth to replenish, refresh, and renew the world around us. After the rigors of winter they are welcomed by us, especially those of us residing in the extreme climates. I mean, Wednesday, March 20 is the first day of spring. And, the renewal of the season is here.
The winter months and the unpredictable weather of the lowcountry makes this renewal welcome, even with affected sinuses and yellow mess. On a more personal level, most of us could use a little renewal too. You know, out with the old and in with the new. Winter seems to solidify the ruts that can easily define life and the spring, with all of the prodding of nature, is a good time for reflection, examination, and change. So, how can spring renewal become something that moves from the outer man to the inner self. Let me suggest several avenues to renewal---
1. Understand that renewal is a constant necessity for life.
The prophet Isaiah was inspired to write about the weariness that often accompanies the rigors of life. He wrote, "You were wearied with the length of your way, but you did not say, “It is hopeless”; you found new life for your strength, and so you were not faint" (Isaiah 57:10, ESV). Regular, consistent personal renewal is a path to fresh strength, vision, and relationships. Spring breathes this newness into us. We should experience it frequently.
2. Understand that genuine renewal is an inside out reality.
It is a solid biblical theme, the renewal that emits from our hearts and minds to influence our actions, decisions, and relationships. The Apostle Paul wrote about it many times. To the Ephesians he wrote, "To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4: 22-24, ESV). Authentic renewal happens at the deepest level of human experience and moves outward to examine and alter our time management, influence over others, decision making, and virtually everything about life.
3. Understand that renewal moves our expectations upward.
Most of us get trapped in our ruts. When there is genuine renewal our thoughts can be lifted from the crucible of circumstances to greater vision and hope. To the Colossians the Apostle Paul wrote this profound truth---" Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth" (Colossians 3:2, ESV). Personal renewal elevates our vision above the rut so we can envision greater things beyond our human limitations.
4. Understand that renewal can restore our courage and determination.
King David knew about down times and the urgency of personal renewal. In perhaps the most quoted Psalm he wrote, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me" (Psalm 23: 105, ESV). Restoration of personal confidence and courage can be a powerful outcome of consistent renewal.
5. Understand that personal renewal can influence the people around us.
Once again King David prayed to God for a renewed spirit. He knew this moment of personal freshness and restoration would spill out on everyone and everything around him. He prayed, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me" (Psalm 51: 10, ESV). There's little doubt that a clean heart and right spirit can touch the lives of everyone in our circle of influence, especially those closest to us, those we love the most, and those who look to us for guidance and direction.
It's in the air, renewal. Here's praying that it's in us too, and, as a result, we'll take these first steps toward personal renewal 2019.