This Christmas/Advent season, we have run in overdrive, and in some cases, hit the wall of exhaustion. Especially after the last few difficult years, we are in danger of losing heart and hope in our various relationships, (or lack thereof), job situations, and more.
As a result, our abilities to find heart, purpose, worth, and expect anything better is wasting away or maybe has gone away.
Maybe you feel like no longer fighting and you just think “Let it just happen. Let’s just get through the day. Let the day have its way with me. Because I don’t think there’s anything better. I can’t even imagine anything really changing.”
Or maybe you’re trying to push through and you’re burning out. It makes you feel bad about yourself, condemns you, and makes you try harder in ways you just can’t.
Whether we are young – youthful and immature, or mature – established, ready, go-getters – we all need God’s gift of renewal in our tired lives.
Spiritual Renewal is something that we are always in need of
When we speak of Renewal – the kind of Renewal the God of the Bible is promising – it’s not about going back to or “feeling like your old self again.” The renewal that God is promising us is beyond that.
God’s renewal is about continuing further in your journey and growing, leveling up, and deepening our souls to receive His empowering and preserving love for us. It’s about moving closer to Him and closer to who He designed us to be.
Spiritual renewal, for God’s most advanced creation, you and me, is similar to our technology – we are always in need of it, always have access to it, and it’s always good for our world.
I would compare it to renewing or updating our software which gives us the opportunity to not just experience the same things, the same way, but to more fully experience a new way – with more to discover.
And renewal is not just because we are fallen or have misused ourselves, or have suffered from misuse. Sure, these things complicate and add to our need for it, but God created us, originally before sin ever entered the world, to be renewed.
It’s not like a manufacturer’s warranty for defects. It was originally a built-in feature of our humanity.
And unfortunately, a lack of renewal doesn’t just affect our own lives – we can become hosts and pass along all sorts of viral unhealthiness to those close to us and the world around us.
But as Isaiah 40:28 tells us, what we need for spiritual renewal is unsearchable. Though we need it – we can’t buy it, think it up, produce it, or conjure it. It’s not found by Wikipedia or Google searching. God alone gives it.
Spiritual Renewal is something we always have in the Lord
Originally, we were created by God to have a seamless connection with Him and continuously grow in levels of our humanity, relationship with others, and to Him. But the Bible teaches us that sin broke that divine interaction.
We get tired and exhausted by living life with a spotty connection to our Creator, to our manufacturer. We get exhausted and we can’t take any more changes or diversions or bad news or download any more tasks or burdens.
And remember, in this fallen world, you can be certain that stuff will keep on coming, right? Life will keep on bringing it and we’re simply not receiving enough “spiritual memory,” if you will, to properly process the world.
I used to have this Playstation controller – and some of the keys on my controller were worn out. And when anybody else played it, they’d say, “What’s wrong with this controller? It pulls to the left.” And I’d say, “You got to hit the A button twice.” Because it was worn out from me using it or dropping it on the ground.
But I had adjusted and I had actually gotten good on that broken controller. I couldn’t even use a properly working one because that’s the one I’d been trained to use. I had accepted that doing a certain play just wouldn’t work right. But it was only true because I had accepted it.
And we do that with life. We allow life to do that to us. We are doing life with weary and worn-down controllers, which will ultimately lead to us falling.
We need God’s renewal – a renewal that we have in Him. Our God is the power for what it means to get through life, regardless of what it brings, and to fully operate as a human being.
Isaiah 40:31 says, this advent season, we must wait for it.
“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 NKJV)
Ugghh!! Wait? Do you mean like we have to wait on Christmas Eve for the next day to get our presents, in anxious, sleepless torture? Not quite.
To “wait” means, yes – wait, linger, long for. But this is no ordinary wait, because “wait on” means to bind yourself, to wrap yourself up, to harness to, to saddle up, to tie into.
This means that, as God goes, you and I go.
Here is what makes that good. We might faint, grow weary, and fall, but God does not. And if we are tied to him, we will be renewed and run with His strength.
But there is even better news.
Our hope in waiting on the Lord is that the Lord himself, in order to renew us, waits on us. He’s bound himself to fallen, failing, and exhausted people, those who couldn’t wait on Him.
And it’s a promise, not just a possibility – it’s a promise of God’s renewal in Christ Jesus.
Jesus is God’s renewal for us. He has come to bind himself to humanity. He has come to connect to failed, fainting, fallen off, ruined, and run-down souls and lives. His birth, life, death, and resurrection for people like you and me means that God will never tire, faint, or fail on waiting on us.
Jesus renews us so that we can “wait on” the world
That power of God’s renewal is not just brute strength. It’s fruitfulness, fertility, breaking through – like a chute, or a bud on a tree.
Renewal is God’s spiritual power to blossom through us. It’s RAM for the heart. It motivates and gives the heart the hope to become and do and the strength to get up to keep going.
And not just for ourselves, but for the sake of other people in our lives.
The interesting thing about renewal through Jesus is that it is personal but is never intended to be private. The allusion to young men in this passage points to those who can walk, run, and fly for the community out in the world.
We are called to “wait on the world” just as we wait on the Lord. We are called as “young” renewed men and women to a world that is in tired, ruined, resignation.
But in this advent season, we are freed to do what renewed people do – walk, run, and even fly and to move out in this world with the good news of Jesus’ renewing grace.
In Isaiah 40, the picture of young men fainting, becoming weary, and falling is telling us that our exhaustion is not an issue of human vitality. The failing in our lives is not because we are not trying hard enough, but rather because we are trying hard to do life without the Lord as our renewing power.
In fact, the more we push and try to free ourselves from spiritual and emotional exhaustion – the harder the fall can be. The renewal we need is out of our human reach.
This blog post is part of Renewal for Advent – a five-part Advent devotional series, centered on asking Jesus to renew our Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love:
Renewing Our Hope (by Rev. Scotty Smith)
Renewing Our Peace (by Lindsay Kimball)
Renewing Our Joy (by Dr. Robert Kim)
Renewing Our Love (by Piper Fordham)
Catch up on the whole series at: serge.org/renewal-for-advent