I’m standing at the highest point of the Herman Creek Trail — at least I think it’s the highest point. After trekking four miles uphill on a snow-covered path, I’m not sure if this is the view I’m supposed to be looking at, but this is definitely the view I need.
My eyes scan the horizon, and I see endless rolling hills dotted with white-flecked pine trees spreading out in front of me. Yesterday’s snow clings to frozen branches. Nothing moves. A thin layer of fog gracefully settles into the valley below like a soft blanket. All the sound around me suddenly goes mute. As light snow begins to fall, I turn my face to the sky and breathe deeply letting the crisp air fill my lungs. Life enters; I can feel it.
It carefully enfolds me like the delicate fog hugging the hills below. Time stops and it feels as if God and I share this space and this moment He made just for me.
Defining the word renewal is difficult for me. On one side, I blame my love for English and a slight obsession with words. On the other side, this word is just too meaningful to easily define. I want to capture the action of it: beginning again, being physically and spiritually restored. I want to capture the experience of it: the rejuvenation you can feel all the way to your bones. I want to capture the essence of it: God’s unseen, hidden work when I wasn’t watching.
So, I settled on pinpointing a specific experience of renewal in my life to give us a working example and definition. It’s this moment from early January 2016 that I remember so vividly. Of course, not all of our experiences are quite so tangible and dazzling, but I believe the experience of breathing in His peace has significantly changed me, and its impact never gets old.
Renewal was an evident theme in my life last year, as I put a difficult chapter of my life behind me and set out to rediscover my identity in Jesus. It was a learning year, a stretching year. I came out of it with a few bruises, but I found many new ways to reignite my passion for Jesus and for life.
God is faithful.
Now, one year later, I have asked God to give me a new theme and a new word for 2017. I am hoping for a super cool word like adventure, or love, or something equally inspiring I can tattoo on my heart (or maybe my body).
I anxiously listen for God’s new word. Renew floats through my head and heart again. I can’t seem to escape it. At first, I brush it off and think, God, didn’t we already spend enough time on renewal last year? We worked on that already; I’m renewed now. I’m ready for something else! Through conversations, prayers and finally being asked to write about the topic, God has confirmed that renew is still His heartbeat and desire for me.
Renewal is not a thing we can check off our annual resolutions list; I’ve learned that. It’s something we do over and over again. It’s something we get to do over and over again. We get to experience God’s renewal in our lives every day, hundreds of times a day. And the most amazing part of it all is that we don’t have to be standing on a mountaintop to do it! God will meet us wherever we are and at anytime.
You may be standing at a viewpoint in your life, where you can look out and see the beauty and grace that God has for you. You may be standing in a valley, desperate to see the bigger picture and hoping God’s faithfulness will guide you to the summit. Here’s what I know: God will overwhelm you with His beauty and restore your hope in His goodness. He will cover you with His peace like the warmest of blankets. He will renew your tired spirit and bring new life to your bones. And it will never, ever get old.
So, I’ve embraced renewal as God’s theme for my year of 2017. I want to live it, experience it, and crave it. I am praying the same for you. Let’s have the act of daily renewal be something we all crave. As God leads us into the adventures He has planned for this year, let’s allow ourselves to be restored by His great love, like none other. Let’s breathe in His mercies because they are new every morning, afternoon, and night. It’s going to be a spectacular year of renewal. I absolutely cannot wait!
Alyssa is a creative writer, nature explorer, and coffee enthusiast. When she isn’t running after her fur-child Rogue, or attempting a new craft from Pinterest, she loves making connections over a well-balanced cup of black coffee (or two, or three).