What I Mean By Spiritual Renewal and Why I Seek It

Yesterday’s post focused on seeking renewal this summer, and not merely rest. Which promptly lead someone to message me asking, “Great post, but what does renewal mean?”

My first thought was to reply sarcastically, but my friend is an intelligent fella so I took a moment to consider his question.  I like being pushed a little so it looks like I have a follow up post inniated by a reader – I’ll take it and know that I appreciate you engaging with me.

So what do I mean when I say spiritual renewal aside from the terse obvious answers of “to be made new again but you know, like, spiritually ” “to be reinvigorated spiritually of course” and “to feel fresh … ?” If I was selling a moisturizing body wash, this would suffice but in terms of spiritual renewal, these words only scratch the surface.  Now if I was selling a Christian moisturizing body wash, I’d imitate the Axe campaigns or even the Old Spice ones.  Could you imagine a cool looking worship leader wearing cool clothes and a scarf talking about his new morning routine of singing songs and showering with a holy skin care product called “Anointed?”  What about Moses sitting on top of a T-rex bringing water down on a town like … I don’t know, Las Vegas, holding up a bar of soap called, Ancient Cumin. Man if I had the time, I’d rent a table at Catalyst and boom, watch these soap bottles get raptured off the table.  I’d even do it as a one-for-one campaign.  Buy one for yourself and I’ll give a bottle to a dirty self-righteous Pharisee.  Win-win ;)

Anyway, spiritual renewal is not just about feeling reinvigorated nor is it a “spiritual high.”  While I recognize being reinvigorated is a good thing and appreciate there are all sorts of  highs in life, these things are more responses from a particular experience.  Nothing wrong with them, but they are not worthy pursuits as they diminish our faith to be flimsy vehicles for”feel-good moments” which is alien to what Jesus taught about being His follower.

Spiritual renewal has more to do with two things.  First, reawakened and rediscovering identity and second, a galvanized sense of mission and practice.  When do you feel most yourself?  What do you do that gives you the most joy.  Why is it when you are this certain person or do this particular thing that you think to yourself, “This is me” and further, why does it feel so deep and so spiritual?

We generally feel this in a handful of moments doing a few things. We experience this in our relationships, we feel this when we hold the hand of someone dear to us.  At times we feel this when we serve others, when we listen and support a friend or when we create or restore something beautiful. I know someone who tells me he feels this when he paints.  He would say it’s just a hobby, it doesn’t pay bills, it takes time away from the family, but he finds so much renewal on working on that canvas.  Whatever it is for you, it’s in these moments we feel most ourselves and we think “This is how God made me and why I’m here.”

I doubt I’ll say that in some other contexts as it tends to come off as “pop-spirituality” but here framed in this way, it may be helpful to use that inner monologue.  It’s easy to over simplify these experiences and walk around and say things like, “God has me on this planet to make Christian body wash because I feel most myself when I’m clean and using Christian cliches.”  It’s also easy to over-complicate these things and drift through decades of living without any sense of purpose and overcome by the idea of identity-searching.  The default is to be inactive and cynical while supposedly waiting to find something worthwhile.  It’s usually only true for a short duration, usually not for years and years.  Spiritual renewal is helpful for both extremes and much of the gray life in between.

It’s been my experience that as we go through life, we refine our callings, we add more intentionality to our practices, we reduce the unnecessary, maybe even abandon what we deem worthless for the sake of something better.  Spiritual renewal is not merely a “life plan” but has more to do with that life transformation.  Paul’s idea of being a living sacrifice (Rom. 12) is another way of describing this idea of calling and practice.

This summer, I want to grow in my calling as a husband, a father, my many other family roles.  I want to evolve not just in my vocational role as a pastor but also as a child of God.  I desire to be a better friend, I also desire to be a better stranger or a better citizen of the world.  But in addition to growing and evolving, I want to be re-awakened, maybe even re-energized, and in addition to that I seek greater clarity, resolve and mission.  All these roles, all these actions are spiritual and they all need to be renewed.

Probably more can be said, feel free to add, but for the most part this is what I mean when I say I’m seeking spiritual renewal.  Thanks again for the push-back – feel free to do so openly in the comment section.

Comments

  1. Greetings,
    I found this post to speak directly to me, so thank you. It captured my attention because of the humor infused in a very deep subject! I prayed for guidance in the coming year (2018) and the word Renewal came strongly into focus. What brought me to your post was searching the internet for the “Spiritual” meaning of “Renewal”. You see, I saw myself in the words, “The default is to be inactive and cynical while supposedly waiting to find something worthwhile”. This is where I have landed, but with the message of renewal I can move towards, “I want to be re-awakened, maybe even re-energized, and in addition to that I seek greater clarity, resolve and mission. All these roles, all these actions are spiritual and they all need to be renewed.”
    You not only defined Spiritual Renewal in words that resonated, you offered direction AND you did it with humor and insight.
    Thank You so very much! I will be printing this off & keeping it in my journal!

  2. I agree with Dee, it’s as if I had written that my self. I was looking for the definition of renewal because that is my word the 2018 and I came across your article and it is just exactly how I feel thank you so much for sharing with us your definition of spiritual renewal, it definitely resonated with me and I believe it will be a real help to me as I take this journey of renewal because that’s exactly what it’s going to be a journey of being renewed and reinvigorated! I don’t want this to become a huge reply I just really wanted to say thank you and Godspeed!

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