Why Is Lent a Season of Renewal?
Lucinda Secrest McDowell
Round Top, Texas, is home to the “Junk Gypsies,” and whenever I’m there, I like to pop in and see what latest “junk” they have transformed into “treasure.”
These two sisters, hosts of their own television show, see old horseshoes and envision a chandelier. With a bit of welding, those used-up, thrown-out pieces of rusty metal become a shabby chic light fixture for a fancy barn party.
I love this concept. Looking at the old and tossed-aside remnants of a life. And then, with love, creativity, and hard work, repurposing it into a unique and beautiful new creation.
God does this with souls. He renews us.
He sees far more potential in us than we ever can because He knows our hearts. And, more than that, He knows what a bit of love, grace, and attention can do to renew us from the inside out. To make us into something like “junk jewels.”
Here the New Testament Greek word anakainoo’ is best translated as “to renew, make new again, amend, or change.” This is referring to how God transforms a believer. This word renew is specifically used for causing something (or someone) to become better or superior to what they were before.
God can do the same thing with our lives: repurpose us as an authentic soul who dwells in the power and presence of Christ.
This verse uses the present tense to mean we are “constantly being renewed,” to a new quality of life. This is a marathon, friends, not a sprint, and will continue the rest of our lives—the process of sanctification or conforming to the image of God’s Son.
Paul chose anakainoo’ in referring to our physical bodies: “Even if our bodies are breaking down on the outside, the person that we are on the inside is being renewed every day” (2 Corinthians 4:16 CEB). And he used it referring to our minds: “Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds” (Romans 12:2 CEB).
Are you ready for renewal?
We can choose to “renew” any time, but the days building up to Easter Sunday are an especially appropriate season for repenting and reflecting on what Jesus Christ has done for us. The season of Lent derives its name from the old Saxon word lencton, which literally means “length.” Even as the cold, winter days are gradually lengthening, so are our souls moving from winter into the spring of new life and hope. This practice of a forty-day preparation began in the third century and is a great way to seek God in a fresh way.
In the ensuing days, may we choose to walk by faith not sight, by grace not law, by the Spirit not the flesh, by relinquishment not resistance, by wisdom not folly, and by losing our lives for Christ’s sake instead of always looking out for number one.
In this way, may we “learn to know your Creator and become like him.”
under the mercy, Cindy
©2016 Lucinda Secrest McDowell
My new book Dwelling Places – Words to Live in Every Season by Lucinda Secrest McDowell contains a 40-day Lenten devotional “Renew” (as well as fall, Advent and summer) It arrives June 2016 from the good folks at Abingdon Press. Available in Paperback and Hardcover. During Lent 2016 I will include some of those devotionals on my weekly blog.