“To everything there is a season. A time for every purpose under heaven.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NKJV)
I really don’t know how it happened. I guess it’s just one of those things that begin light and innocent, then one thing leads to another and before you know it, it’s 2 AM and you’re knee-deep into season six of some survival reality show you just can’t quit.
This was the predicament I found myself in over Christmas break. It’s not like I had nothing to do, real work was hovering over my head. Emails to respond to, decorations to put away, clothes to fold, actual work people pay me for, and food to prepare. But I just kept watching … while my house slowly fell apart and my children played around me in pajamas they’d been wearing since … honestly, I have no idea.
The show was called “Alone,” a series where ten survival experts were left in the arctic wilderness, completely alone for as long as they could survive mentally, or physically. The last one to not “tap out” won $500,000. There were no camera crews – all they had were themselves, camera equipment, a small set of supplies – and whatever nature could provide.
I was mesmerized. Day after day, I watched people whose only purpose in life was to live, alone, in nature. They utilized all God gives us to survive – nothing more than their mind, their body, the land and wild animals. And when you binge a TV show within an inch of your life, you start to notice patterns. Most of the cast who tapped out didn’t do so because they ran out of food or couldn’t survive the cold – they tapped out because they could no longer bear to be alone.
One morning while chatting with my mom, I confessed that I was in the throes of a full-on addiction to a show about survival when I’m not even a nature, survivalist kind of woman. Maybe I’ll take a hike, but I prefer my hikes on level ground, with lots of benches so I can feed the ducks Wonder bread, thank you very much.
“I have no idea why I can’t quit this show,” I said during a quick break between episodes. And with an intuitive understanding, she said matter-of-factly,
“It’s because you’re getting insight into how God made us to be.”
I think she was on to something.
The modernization of our current world has been a blessing. But when we forget who we are, and more importantly, the one who created us — it can be a meaningless curse.
Most of us live in such abundance, instead of worrying if we’ll have enough meat to survive the winter, we spend the day worrying we’ve been unfollowed from that one friend from high school. Instead of cherishing our relationships and knowing we’re meant to love and be loved, we cut family and friends off for grievances like voting differently than we do. In other words, most of us are so detached from what it means to truly survive, so separated from who we are meant to be as communal human beings – we invent our own superficial apocalypses, catastrophes and dramas to keep things interesting. Of course, our spirit knows better. It cries out amongst the triviality, the superficiality – the meaninglessness of it all.
And ever so gradually, we become disenchanted. Lost. Hopeless. Depressed. We aren’t who God made us to be and deep down, we know it.
Of course, bad things happen in this life – none of us escape it. But most of the time – they don’t. But our minds, filled with frightened thoughts, fed by the bowels of social media and fearmongering parading around as “news” – consumed by our own discontent, what ifs and exaggerations – it’s no wonder we can’t tell the difference between a true tragedy and just an imagination running wild.
There must be a better way. And there is. There always has been.
God’s gift of renewal.
One of the gifts I hunger for most is this precious gift. I’m in awe by how God made us and the world he created for us to live in.
The sun will always rise tomorrow.
We can always start again. Just like all of creation, the deadness of winter gives birth to the renewal of spring. A harsh pruning can lead us to more abundance and beauty than we ever thought possible.
When we fail, when we stumble. When things don’t go the way we hoped. When we get angry, lash out, when we sleep all day. When we make the wrong choice, ruin a good thing, or lose it all, even if it’s our fault …
The sun will always rise again tomorrow.
We can always start again.
And choose Him. Choose faith in his goodness, his provision, his plan. Choose joy. Choose peace. Choose love.
Each day we can ask and receive. He gives us his spirit to renew us, to wash us clean. White, fresh, new. And he gives it to us freely.
We can always start again.
My prayer is that we can focus on renewal and what it means to be renewed – in our spirit, our soul, and our bodies. Just as the sun rises each day, I know I’ll have to be renewed each day. I hunger for it. It gives me a healthy dependance on God to provide what I need so I can go about doing what I was meant to do.
And what we’re meant to do is unique to us, but it isn’t complicated. Start here: love others, serve them, care for those we love and those in our community. Use our gifts, honor them, master them, and multiply them for the good of others. Enjoy the gift of life for as long as it’s given to us. All to the glory of the God who created us.
What else matters?
For those of you who feel battered, burdened and bruised– take heart. The world God created for us was designed to consistently renew. To regenerate. To multiply.
And the same goes for us too.
No matter how bad it looks in our job, our relationships, our health– God implores us to never fear. He can renew us, regenerate us—He can give us everything we need, not just to survive but to thrive.
Of course, it requires a little work on our part—he’s not in the business of chopping our wood. He gave us the tree, you see. It’s up to us to build the table for others to feast on.
By the way, have you ever chopped a tree? It’s really hard!
So don’t think this renewal business will be easy. But I promise you this – if you let God renew you each day, to wash off the worldly dirt and grime so you can shine bright with faith, peace and joy — it will be so edifying, so true—your cup will runneth over and it cannot be contained.
So for this year, I wonder … what needs to be renewed? In your mind? Your spirit? You body? Your vision, your dream?
What can we create with what God gives us each day?
The possibilities are endless, really. Out with the old.
In with the new.