Restore the joy of our salvation

Restore to me the joy of your salvation.” (Psalm 51:12)

I am a Chicago Cubs fan, and last week, there was a wonderful moment for those of us who still enjoy watching baseball. One of the Cubs rookies, Christopher Morel, hit a game-winning home run and, abandoning all decorum, sprinted joyfully around the bases, tearing off his shirt for the final 90 feet and leaping on to home plate and the embrace of his teammates (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kS5C8fgkG34). It wasn’t the fact that the Cubs won that brought tears to my eyes; it was the unbridled exuberance that young man showed as he lived out a moment that he had undoubtedly dreamed about growing up in the Dominican Republic.

The funny thing was that his home run didn’t win the World Series or get them into the playoffs. In many ways, it was just one among many meaningless midseason games, game 120 of a 162-game season. If it had been a 10-year veteran hitting that home run, he probably would have admired the ball going over the fence, tossed his bat, puffed out his chest, and jogged around the bases. Act like you’ve been there before, right? But for Morel, the magic of the moment caused him to submit himself to the joy he felt, without reservation.

Watching Morel’s joy brought to mind David’s prayer in Psalm 51:12, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation,” as well as Jesus’ words to the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2:4, “You have forsaken your first love.” I came to faith in Jesus as an 18-year-old freshman at UConn, as God put His Holy Spirit in me and gave me a hunger to know Him more. Soon after, I joined a Christian group called InterVarsity. I had never really worshiped God before, and after a few weeks, I would sing and dance around in the back of the room, caught up in the worship of God. I had been seized by a great affection, experienced the joy of salvation, and discovered what it meant to be loved by God.

Next September, it will be 30 years since the day God saved me. Some things have not changed: I still have a hunger for God, and I still marvel at His grace and mercy towards me. But I have heard many of the Bible stories before, and sung many of the songs repeatedly over the years. I’ve been there and done that. In many ways, my faith is more mature. But in others ways, I need to ask if I have lost the joy of my salvation, if I no longer respond to the Spirit the way Christopher Morel reacted to hitting a game-winning home run.
 
I don’t know how long you have followed Jesus, but I challenge you today to ask God to restore to you the joy of your salvation, to help you return to your first love, that you give yourself fully to the love and joy of the Lord.

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