Lord, make me willing to obey
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. | Psalm 51:12 (NLT)
This Psalm is a confession of sin. The Psalmist knows he’s messed up, and messed up big time. He’s recognized how far he’s fallen short, and asked God for mercy, according to the love he knows has been promised to him. I wonder if lately you’ve felt like you’ve fallen short. I wonder if, like me, you’ve contemplated how Holy, Righteous, Perfect, Awesome, Powerful, Limitless, Just, and Good God is, aware of how Unholy, Unrighteous, flawed, weak, pitiful, limited, unjust, and sinful you and I are.
It has made me at times feel completely depressed and in the depths of despair. In fact, at the beginning of this year, I was so discouraged I wasn’t looking with hope for this year, I was tempted to look more at all my failings of the year before. On Jan 10th I decided to do something drastic. Cut out sugar and crave more of Jesus. I knew I needed to do this, because I knew my joint pains, lethargy, short-tempered behaviour, mood swings, etc were not being helped, but were increasing by how I was eating—yet more than that by how much I was Not enjoying Jesus. I wasn’t craving Him! I knew my attitudes were just the symptom of a discouraged and self-reliant heart. I was becoming more discontent and my family was feeling it. The first few days were not joy filled—they were pretty bad! Just when I thought brain fog couldn’t get foggier, I found I couldn’t think straight at all, and was struggling to carry on coherent discussions. I was emotional and weak—angry and short on patience. But you know what’s so encouraging? In my weakness and frustration, God showed up. He showed me how much I did NOT need in the way of treats and comforts and how much He was ready to provide as I repented of my sin. Over this last 40 days I have seen things come up that surprised and shocked me, brought me to my knees in a new desperation for more of Jesus and more change in my heart. He is ALL. We. Need. And this verse shows us where to focus. Joy is not something we can manufacture. It’s not limited to a feeling, and it’s definitely not founded on what we experience. Jesus is the one who invented Joy. He is the one who Rescues, Redeems, and Restores us. He loves us and He wants ALL of us. The second half of the verse asks God to “make me willing to obey”. We don’t have what it takes to even want to obey, let alone do it. And God, in His mercy changes our hearts when we confess our sins, and instead of throwing us out in the cold, He brings us near. Repentance leads to restoration. Willingness leads to decisive obedience. Determined Joy leads to Re-Joicing—Re-joys and Re-joys again!