A Clean Heart
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” – Psalm 51:10-12
Hello Church Family,
This past week, I just happened to go on a long walk by myself on Tuesday night. There was the need to get some exercise, and also the need to just get away with the Lord. As I walked and talked with the Lord, listening to music on my iPhone, a playlist brought up “Create in me a Clean Heart” by Keith Green, that wonderful Christian singer from the 70s and 80s.My first thought was: Wow, this is an old song! But as I listened to Keith sing the words of Scripture, based on Psalm 51, I was immediately flooded with memories of a younger me. The first time the power of these lyrics hit me, I was singing the song in youth group (yep, that dates me a bit). Back then, there was such honesty in Green’s confession for needing a “clean heart,” a “right Spirit,” and to have the “joy of salvation” restored to him. As I walked last week, I remembered those times in youth group when I first trusted in Christ, first realized the depth of my sinfulness, and the first time I experienced the joy that only Christ can give. Those lyrics were part of what drew me to the Lord, and one of the reasons may be that we sang the song over and over again. It seemed like every time we met, we had to sing it, but even so, God used it to shape me and draw me to himself.
Now, fast-forward a few decades later, and the words from “Create in me a Clean Heart,” still resonate with me today, perhaps more so, as I now know Keith Green drew them from the original author, King David, in Psalm 51. David is described as being a man after God’s own heart. He walked many years with the Lord, and yet, he still struggled with sin and discouragement; he needed his joy restored. He was also prone to going his own way, living for himself, and seeking comfort in temporary pleasures. What a reminder this is, that no matter how long we have walked with the Lord, our heart still needs a good cleaning from harboring attitudes of self-reliance, finding comfort in other places, and seeking other joys. I know that can be true of me. Too often, I can come home and want to be left alone to watch the news, surf the Internet, or just decompress. Thinking that these temporary escapes will somehow restore and refresh me is certainly not true. When I give an honest assessment of myself, I see someone who all too often, works, parents, plans, leads, and relates out of a spirit of self-reliance and self-centeredness. As a result, I am left exhausted, frustrated, irritable, and sometimes joyless.
The verses from Psalm 51 offer hope. David penned them knowing full well, that God would not cast him aside, but would, in fact, restore to him the joy of his salvation. I am reminded every time I read or sing these words, that our God is faithful to redeem and restore those of us with dirty hearts. There is no greater joy than the joy that comes from being in God’s presence. What great words of hope: “restore unto me the JOY of your salvation.” They describe the total blessing and the intimate and personal relationship with the Lord. They describe a relationship that will uphold each of us in our struggle with sin and self-reliance.
So if you don’t have Keith Green on your playlist, then shame on you! Not really. But take some time this week to ask God to do his cleaning work in your life and to restore the joy that comes from being a child of the King.