Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me.
Do not banish me from your presence,
and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you.
We can do certain things all on our own, but some of our most challenging endeavors require assistance. Last summer, my family traveled to Colorado, and along with some great hiking in the mountains, we also spent an afternoon whitewater rafting. The particular section of river we rafted is rated class III and IV, meaning the rapids are fairly intense at times with fast currents and boulders underwater as well as protruding above the surface. We had a great time, and no one went overboard. The four of us may have survived those rapids by ourselves, but having an experienced river guide steering the raft and telling us when to paddle ensured both our safety and enjoyment of the afternoon. Sometimes we need help to accomplish challenging things.
David knew he couldn’t change his heart all on his own. He had confessed his sin to God, admitting the depravity of his heart, and while he rejoiced in the assurance of forgiveness, he didn’t want to stop there. His heart needed to change, or more accurately, David’s heart needed to be changed by God. He couldn’t do it himself, so he asked God to cleanse his heart and to renew his spirit, to restore joy to his soul and to make him willing to obey. David was known as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). He wanted to serve and honor the Lord. He wanted to be faithful and obedient. Still, David was a sinner who needed God to help him turn away from selfish, lustful, prideful cravings and to walk faithfully on the right path God set before him.
Spiritual transformation is always the work of God’s Spirit, and we need to be willing recipients of the Spirit’s work. Like my family climbing excitedly into the raft on that fast flowing river, we need the Spirit to guide us forward and enable our hearts to turn from sinful desires toward the righteousness of God. As you grow in spiritual maturity, learning to love God and to honor Jesus more fully, your desires will bend toward God’s desires. You will learn to want the good things of God instead of the selfish things of the world. The Holy Spirit steadily sweeps out your heart, replacing old with new, dirty with clean. This process can be painful and will require a lifetime of transformation, but if you pray for it as David did, the Spirit will do wonderful work in your heart. You will find it easier to resist temptation and more joyful to do the will and work of God. Your spirit will be renewed in strength, peace and hope that only God can provide.
Holy Spirit, I need Your guidance and transforming power. Cleanse my heart and renew my spirit. Restore joy to my soul and teach me to obey Your leading. Thank You for helping me to become more like Jesus, through whom I pray. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian