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“Would you like to renew your items?” 

No, thank you; but I would like to renew myself

I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that the Bud Werner Memorial Library in Steamboat Springs, Colorado is probably not the draw card for a town that has people pouring into it each year to ski, snowboard, and hike or bike down the mountains. I did hear a rumor that they sell bumper stickers that read, “Came for the winter, stayed for the library.” Sounds about right to me.

I’ll circle back to renewal, but first, a bit more about the library. My family and I discovered it at the end of a week spent in this area six years ago (May of 2014). We were in awe. We love our libraries, and this one has it all. Right now, I have four cards to libraries in four different cities in my wallet. Yes, I know that sounds incredibly nerdy.

Back to renewal: returning to Bud Werner Library was a real blessing to me. When I was there six years ago, I was on my first ever sabbatical after 20 years of full-time ministry. En Gedi Retreat graciously provided a cabin for us in nearby Yampa (thanks, Carl Walker and En Gedi supporters!). 

It was a time of spiritual growth and renewal for me. God was at work in my heart and in my ministry, and I enjoyed and welcomed the leading of his Spirit. 

But ministry requires renewal! The miles logged across what is now more than 27 years of preaching take a toll. I remember veteran preacher Eddie Sharp saying knowingly to a group of us one day at a seminar, “You don’t end up in preaching the same person you were when you started out.” 

I need words to sustain me from God. He has always provided such words for his servants. He refreshed his servants in the past: “But you…my servant…whom I have chosen…I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:8-10, NIV). 

Today, these words offer us renewal as we serve him. These are words God graciously, lovingly, and generously provides. If you are in ministry, may you hear God’s words afresh, as they rekindle your strength.

Sometimes I need some words to sustain me from modern tunesmiths. One message that I appreciate comes by way of beloved Texas troubadour Willie Nelson. In his Beth Nielsen Chapman penned hit, “Nothing I Can Do About it Now,” Willie declares at the end of the song: “I’m forgiving everything that forgiveness will allow/And there’s nothing I can do about it now.”

Forgive what you can. The past is gone. The future is out in front of us. Whatever it brings, let’s be ready for it, welcoming God’s work in our lives as we follow Jesus and continue on this ministry journey.