Monday, February 27, 2017

a joy restored

"Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit."
Psalm 51:12

Our family read this psalm sometime last week during our family devotions, and I haven't been able to get past it. For a week I've clung to it while the Lord used it to speak to me. The past week was one of those weeks where I was noticing a major lack of true joy in my life. I was irritated, probably irritating, and very frustrated. Then I see this verse. And I was grounded. Because it was exactly what I needed, and I knew it. I read this and realized exactly what had been happening.

I'm a geek, so whenever I study Scripture I have to include Greek and Hebrew definitions of words. For some reason I'm the type of person that comes to life by the type of verb tense used (I know, I'm crazy). But, hey. So I looked up some of these words (well, most all of them – but I'll only share some :).

The word restore in Hebrew means to turn back, to go back to. It's a returning to a place you once were. When David the Psalmist says "Restore to me the joy of Your salvation",  it's basically saying he's been there before. He's had something that's been lost. He left a place that he needs to return to. What is this place? It's the salvation of God. Not just the salvation of God, though, it's the joy. It struck me that this joy David speaks of is to self birthed. It's not produced by worldly entertainment or self pleasure. This is a joy that is birthed out of the Salvation of Jesus Christ. This is a joy that comes from spending time meditating on the truths of the work of Jesus in my life and setting Him ever before me. Which is incredible in and of itself: the salvation of Jesus is not a dreary thing – it's exciting and joy filled!

The word uphold in the Hebrew – I love it. You have no idea. Seriously. In short it means to support, to refresh, to sustain, to revive.  Before I go into this, I have to share what the definition of "generous" is. It means willing, noble, generous, free, liberal, inclined. He upholds us by His generous Spirit. He sustains me, revives me, and carries me by His Spirit, which He gives liberally, freely, with a willing heart. James 1 says that "Every good and perfect gift comes from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no shadow or variation of turning." This is our God. This is the Spirit that upholds us. He is free and generous with Himself. He gives us all we need for life and for godliness.

It's been so neat to mediate on this verse and mull it over in my mind. To think about what this is saying and how the Lord desires to use it in my life. If I could summarize what this verse has meant to me, I would say the following. True joy comes from beholding the salvation of God. Looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Heb 12:2). Keeping Him ever before my eyes, until I am filled with the joy I once had. When I surrendered everything to Jesus and was filled with the Holy Spirit, I can't even begin to tell you how joyful I was. Ask anyone in my family and they'll tell you that was the attribute that hallmarked my life after that day: joy. Not a fleshly, self-centered joy, but a true, lasting, Jesus-birthed joy. Looking at the last few weeks leading up to this past week, noticing the absence of that characteristic, I realized something. The lack of joy was a lack of beholding. It was a lack of turning back, returning to that place of seeing Jesus for who He is, in all simplicity. It was a lack of crying out to God day in and day out, setting myself before Him diligently. It was affecting me, and I felt like I had withered a bit. Something had died.  Yet David cries out, "Oh God! Uphold me by Your generous Spirit!" This is my cry today! God, take me! Revive me and sustain me my the greatest gift You've given!

Today I a setting myself before my Jesus. I am returning to the place of my first love. I am beholding Him for who He is – a mighty King, holy and set apart, who gave Himself in life and in death for me so that I might be sustained by His very Spirit. What a marvelous God I serve! I can't help but be filled with joy at the thought of this thing He has done. I'm overcome, I'm undone, I'm filled with awe and adoration. I am restored in Him. My joy is back because my priorities are straight again. It's Jesus, only Jesus.