Renewal always sounds bright and shiny, like a beautifully restored vintage car or a vibrant blossom in the spring bursting from what had looked like a lifeless branch. But the problem with renewal is that something has decayed in order for it to require a new life. So restoration is a good thing. Right?
But renewal comes with a hitch. What is new is chained to what is old. When I walk in fresh ways, my past self is not dismissed like a cast-off piece of clothing. My past is the chain tied around my ankle, reminding me that whatever lies ahead, whatever bright, polished penny-of-life has brought new life and vision, I am only separated from what has gone before by my willingness to step intentionally onto a new path.
Sure there are helps in people and programs. There is spiritual renewal that comes from the supernatural. But as long as I walk in this skin and bone, my whole story is part of me. Deaths, accidents, betrayals, and sufferings, both physical and mental, do not suddenly and totally disappear in the presence of some mysterious regeneration of self or circumstance. Glass-half-empty does not of its own accord morph into glass-half-full. Renewal is the gritty process of intentionally looking to what is ahead. It is the planting of one foot in front of the other, heading toward a brighter prospect. It is the recognition that what is really real will become actually real when faith becomes sight.
In faith, I may be a new creature and all things may become new in some spiritual sense; but in truth, renewal here requires the commitment to press on in weakness, not forgetting the other chapters of my story, but putting them in the grander perspective of the whole story.
“Now I know in part; then I shall fully know, even as I am fully known.” ~I Cor. 13:12b