Returning to God—the Essential Step to Spiritual Renewal
Lawrence Q. Wong—Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,
As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants
my soul for You, O God. (Ps 42:1)
These words of David reveal a
growing void weighing upon his heart. There was a void left in his soul because
he felt distanced from God. David knew that he would not be complete again
until he was once again nestled within the presence of God.
Reading through Psalm 42, we
discover that the key to spiritual renewal is God Himself; specifically, a
return to Him. This is a process requiring our active pursuit. The onus is on
us to initiate the process.
RETURN TO GOD—FIND PEACE FOR OUR SOULS
Thus says the Lord: “Stand in the ways and see,
and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will
find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” (Jer 6:16)
God reminds the people, through
Jeremiah, that they are walking upon a path that is far from His will, and as a
result their souls are weary. To find rest for their souls, they have to return
to God. Pursuing a thorough understanding of the Scriptures is the beginning of
the trajectory back to God.
Often, after we have spent a
considerable amount of time at spiritual convocations, we find our souls calmed
down. Regular prayers and Bible reading also bring the same soothing feeling to
our souls. These are times when we taste the beauty of seeking after the
kingdom and righteousness of God first, before anything else (Mt 6:33). These
are times when we actually return and rest in God.
The Israelites had forgotten their
God and all that He had done for them. Judah
were ignorant about the Word of God and instead loved the world. God sent them
counsel in the hope of correction, but it was all in vain. God reminded them
through the prophet Jeremiah that if they walked upon the path where the good
way was, they would be at peace and their souls would find rest.
Therefore, “let us search out and
examine our ways, and turn back to the LORD” (Lam 3:40).
EXAMINING THE LIVES WE LEAD
The attitudes and intentions of a
person are apparent through the kind of life he or she leads. That is why we
have to soberly consider the direction we are heading and to test and examine
We all have the freedom to do
whatever we want and to live the life that we want to live (1 Cor 10:23). But
not everything that we could possibly do is beneficial and according to the
will of God. Every so often, we may have veered off the course that God wants
us to be on. The more time that we spend on that course, the further away we
will be from God. Moreover, the more time that we spend away from God, the less
our life will be lived for Him and doing the things that bring Him glory.
The life of Solomon is a good tool
for reference when checking in on ourselves. In his lifetime, Solomon sought
and received everything he possibly could, except one thing—God. We need to
constantly search and examine our way and consider his words of reminder (Eccl
2:11; 12:13). The bottom line is, there is only one thing that truly matters,
which is whether we have lived our life for God. Every other accomplishment or
desire pales in comparison.
By what standards should we use to
check on ourselves? One key criterion is to be in the Lord (Col 3:17). If the path we choose is in the
Lord, then the things that we do and the things that we seek will be
exclusively for God. If we realize that we have squandered opportunities by
diverging from the will of God for our own desires, we need to turn around and
go back to the Lord (Lk 15:13, 17).
RELYING ON THE HOLY SPIRIT
As we advance through life, many
situations remind us just how weak we really are. And while we are in this
world, we cannot remain righteous and holy without constantly renewing
ourselves towards God (Hos 6:3). At times, it may get to the point that we are
on the verge of forsaking our faith and God by giving in to temptations and
The Holy Spirit, which is given by
God, is stronger than any weakness or temptation. It will never leave us
hanging and it will always be before us, but we must continually abide in it
(Jn 15:4). This is, however, a reciprocal relationship—the Holy Spirit will
always help us, but we must do our part too.
When we consider Jesus Christ, He
prayed constantly: in the early mornings, and late into the nights (Mk 1:35; Lk
6:12). That process allowed the Holy Spirit to continually embolden Him with
the power of God, and the glory of God was manifested every time He taught the
people or when the sick came to Him.
The Holy Spirit gets us through
all adversities, no matter how tough or hopeless they may be. All things are
possible through God and He is able to offer guidance in any situation (Mk
The Holy Spirit is like a fire
whose power cannot be understood until it is fanned and grows into a mighty
flame. Its light can then be seen and its power felt. We can then have the
strength and the boldness to stand up for our faith (Acts 1:8). Spiritual
renewal occurs each time we put God first in our lives and when we are able to
fight the temptations before us with righteous acts.
As a new creation, we must develop
into a person who is able to be an ambassador for God at all times. As long as
we live in the world and within the domain of Satan’s influence, we will feel
the effects of his work and we have to stand firm with faith. We have been
chosen by God to represent and uphold His Word in this world. And with this
Word comes the power and strength needed to break the bonds that keep us from
When the dust settles, the only
significant question is whether we have endured and rekindled our spirits
toward the almighty God.