Psalm 51:12 NLT
'Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.'
For years I groaned inwardly whenever penitential Psalm 51 presented itself for reading. I think I only had a superficial understanding of forgiveness. I thought I’d completed the transaction with God and so my forgiveness was secured, no matter how I then chose to live. Something that today sounds both arrogant and ridiculous. Slowly, as I chanted the daily office, I found a fresh appreciation for this great psalm. It offered a journey of reflection, and for this reason I am glad it is in the small compline.
Attending a course recently, I found the two days the most testing yet. I ended the first day with thoughts that were disturbed and carrying feelings that did not sit comfortably with me. As I prayed the compline in my room, this verse leapt out and I repeated it several times for my joy was certainly suppressed. I slept, assuming the work was done.
Next day as we explored an expression of spiritual life, I again found the style of communication grated. I spoke with the tutor and we agreed I would pull out of the next session. But another learner encouraged me to stay as an expression of my commitment to the group. I recalled the words I’d focused on the night before, “sustain me with a willing spirit”. So was I to please myself or express solidarity? I chose the latter.
Today, when so many demands surround our lives, retaining joy and a clear perspective is essential for each of us to maintain wellness. One element in my wellness programme is to compline each evening and allow myself gently to close out the day with God. I make my journey through confession and reflect upon all that might obstruct the joy that is God’s gift.
QUESTION: How do you react to situations that make you feel uncomfortable?
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help me discover the great well of joy that is in knowing I’m fully loved by you.