What does it mean to be renewed? To explain it, perhaps a few questions will illustrate. Have you ever been really thirsty? I don't mean the "oh I need a drink” kind of thirsty but the “my mouth feels like sandpaper, I have a splitting headache, everything is swimming in front of me and if I don't get some moisture soon I am going to die” kind of thirsty. Or how about hungry? Ravenously hungry, ready to eat anything kind of hungry. Finally, how about tired? Not the kind of tired where you just want to sit in a chair and relax for a while but the kind of tired where you find yourself falling asleep on your feet and couldn't keep your eyes open even if your life depended on it. All three of these states have one thing in common, a desperate need. The thirsty need water, the hungry need food, the exhausted need sleep. They need to be renewed.
Another characteristic that is present when we are in these conditions is the dangerous tendency to loose perspective. A person who is desperately thirsty will drink water even if it is dirty or likely to be carrying deadly diseases. A person who is hungry may eat food that is spoiled or even toxic. A person in desperate need of sleep may fall asleep on the road or another dangerous place.
While all of those needs for renewal are very obvious to our conscious awareness. There is a more subtle need for renewal that is present in all of our lives. We desperately need to be daily renewed spiritually. Notice the use of the word desperate again. We are spiritual beings and are made to feed on spiritual things. We were made for a relationship with God and it is through connection with Him that we are renewed spiritually. It is a thirst filled only in God and He declares “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink”(John 7:37). When we make spending time with Him and keeping our hearts clear before Him the foremost priority in our lives, there is a peace, joy and contentment that attends life's journey. Unfortunately, it is too easy to go through life unaware when this is missing. Unless we spend regular time evaluating our hearts it is likely to go unnoticed. The problem is, when we are not being spiritually renewed in God we will shovel almost anything into that void in an attempt to fill it. Our hearts begin to feed on false spiritual things, work, entertainment, human relationships, wealth, power, addictions, and distractions in spades. And just like in the cases of physical desperation where we start eating or drinking the wrong thing we wind up getting spiritually messed up.
The problem is all of these things only intensify the aching spiritual emptiness inside. They do not satisfy they can only mask for a while but leave us ultimately more hollow in the end. For this reason God lovingly warns us “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2). There is no renewing in the world, only a deeper starvation. As our hearts are renewed by coming to God day by day our spiritual perceptions are sharpened and we are able to discern what is good and acceptable to God and for us. Time for a heart check. Have I been satisfying myself in a relationship with God, or do I notice in myself a tendency to feed on false spiritual things? Is there peace and joy in my life, or am I constantly seeking further distraction? These are heart questions that reveal our need. Are you thirsty? Do you need to be renewed? To all of us Jesus says “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”(Matthew 11:28).