The saying that "people never change" is one that has no place in our lives as Christians. Deep in the heart of our faith, and in the very nature of baptism, we understand that the spiritual journey to God is supported by change, over and over again, from within. If faith is planted in our hearts from baptism, its growth depends on daily watering to survive, be renewed, and to flourish.
Change – renewal – is work, no question about that. The kind of renewal that makes the greatest impact in our lives happens every day; it is defined by diligence, the decision each day to take time for the care and feeding of the spirit. The change renewal imparts – simply, the growth of the spirit – expresses itself in wisdom, restraint, kindness. These are the thoughts, words, and attitudes that conform more and more over time to Jesus. Daily renewal happens by the grace of God, yet it requires something of us, too. God has His part; we have ours.
Our part translates to a focus on the simple acts that make up our faith lives already: reflection, prayer, action. Renewal happens when we take time each day to reflect and open ourselves to humility. A humble heart is a heart renewed. The Word of God brings us renewal when we engage it to help us know and do God's will for our lives. Knowing comes from staying close to God in prayer; doing comes from staying God-centered in daily life. When we work to emulate Jesus, there is renewal. A cliché that can actually help us here is "WWJD" – What Would Jesus Do? Asked and answered, that question can guide us in daily renewal.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away: behold, the new has come.”
(2 Corinthians 5:17)
Renewal also happens when we trust in God and wait on His loving ways. What a relief, a renewal, when we are able to stop resisting or losing hope by giving our burdens over to God and trusting in Him to provide.
The work of renewal is always softened by the true refreshment that is inherent in its gifts. The recognition of God's grace gains clarity in the practice of daily renewal. Renewal happens intentionally but also in retrospect, when we consider our day or what has passed. Renewal contains a deep sigh of relief, both literally and figuratively. The breath of life that animates us and propels us forward in our growth is the deep sigh, the peace that comes from daily renewal.