God Renews Spirits, Minds, and Lives
God is a God who loves to renew things. Like what? Here are three.
God renews crushed spirits.
You ever been crushed underneath the weight of something dark you did in secret?
You ever try to hide something because you just know that, if people find out about it, they’re going to stop admiring you?
David was an admired, beloved king of Israel, and perhaps that’s why he just couldn’t bring himself to confess the sin he had done in secret, and so the sin just kept growing in the dark. Instead of confessing his lust, he acted on it. He kept the affair secret, and then he tried to cover up the unplanned pregnancy. But that didn’t work. The woman’s husband needed to be gotten out of the way. So David arranged to have the soldier killed in battle.
It turns out this godly king was a fraud. In Psalm 51, he describes himself using words such as “crushed” and “broken” and “my sin is always before me.”
But the truth is, God likes to renew things. Things like what? In Psalm 51, we learn that God likes to renew crushed and broken spirits. Surely God was done with David, right? After all that David had done to mangle God’s commands and betray the people who looked up to him, surely God was ready to move on to someone he could really trust with the kingdom.
“You ever try to hide something because you just know that, if people find out about it, they’re going to stop admiring you?”
And yet, God’s grace is greater than our sin. And David knew he could go to God and ask Him to renew his spirit:
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Ps. 51:10, NIV)
Where do you turn when your spirit is crushed and your soul is broken under the weight of guilt and shame? You go to the One who renews our spirits and restores our souls.
Renew us, O Lord.
God renews robotic minds.
You ever feel like your life is basically preprogrammed? Like most of your day is just a matter of acting out lines already written ahead of time? Your life just falls in line with patterns that are already set, and most of your life just conforms to these preset patterns?
You’re not crazy for feeling that way. The truth is, the world has already carved paths for you. The world has patterns of doing things which it’s the easiest thing in the world to just go ahead and follow. Here are some of these well-paved paths that the world invites us to:
Get more stuff until it completes you.
Get more popularity until it completes you.
Or pursue romance until it completes you.
Or pursue success until it completes you.
And most people just fall in line, buying the idea that these are the things which will satisfy their soul. And, like robots, they spend their days in preprogrammed pursuit of that which the world dangles in front of them. The problem is that these patterns that the world paves for us don’t lead to the fulfillment we think we’ll find.
“Like robots, they spend their days in preprogrammed pursuit of that which the world dangles in front of them.”
The Bible says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world.” Why not? Is this because God doesn’t want us to have a good time? No, it’s because God is tired of seeing us waste our lives pursuing things that won’t satisfy.
So God invites us onto a transformative path where robots become human again. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed.” How can we be transformed?
“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Rom. 12:2a, NIV)
While the world offers us preprogrammed paths which promise but don’t deliver, God renews our minds in order to transform us. As we follow Jesus and allow him to renew our minds with his truth, we find ourselves increasingly filled with peace and creativity, increasingly defined by love and kindness. We find him carving new paths in our imagination about what it means to be human and live a complete life. It’s an invitation from robotic conformity to transformation.
Renew us, O Lord.
God renews tragic lives.
Ever felt like the world around you is collapsing? Like the ground beneath you is crumbling? When things are falling apart around you, what do you say to God?
The book of Lamentations in the Bible is a collection of poems of grief. It was written after the Babylonians had destroyed Jerusalem, the Israelites’ capital city. What was once a beautiful city was now nothing more than ruins and charred remains.
The author, a prophet named Jeremiah, gets to the end of the book, and it’s as if he’s looking back at photos of the city at its inception. He remembers the hopefulness that once characterized the city and writes,
“Restore us to yourself, Lord, that we may return; renew our days as of old.” (Lam. 5:21)
And in a nation which had rejected God and was now standing in the devastation which came from their wrong decisions, they were now praying exactly the right prayer: Renew us.
Why is that the right prayer? Well, because renewing us is what God does. Sure enough, within a few decades, God has brought the Israelites back into the city to rebuild. They repair the crumbled walls and reconstruct the temple.
“Sure enough, within a few decades, God has brought the Israelites back into the city to rebuild.”
In the midst of troubles, this book of lament teaches us that, if there is hope to be found, it’s found in the God who restores and renews. For, even though we live in a world that spirals into chaos, we follow a God who makes all things new.
So, in the aftermath of widespread tragedies and personal wounds, we pray along with the prophet,
Renew us, O Lord.