This morning’s devotion comes from Simeon Zahl.

044176i2Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit. (Psalm 51:12, NRSV)

The psalmist brings two things to bear here:

First, it is okay to ask God for joy. Joy is good. The reality of sin and of human limitations, and the truth of the cost of atonement, are no excuse for being grim and boring. Quite the reverse! Secure in God and His salvation, the true and natural way is to laugh at ourselves and at this world, and to seek and find the joy in it. God’s world is brimming with joy if you are willing to look. All joy is from God and is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). The joy of our salvation means, not least, that I have received God’s help and love in my life, really and concretely; now it’s time to play.

But O for a willing spirit! How do I become “willing?” The will is God’s specialty. We try so hard to change our wills and our desires, and we are so bad at it. God is good at it though. He knows how to change desires deep down, where it counts; He tinkers far below in the dark, in the foundations, the “archaeology” beyond our reach that drives our actions. And, inscrutably and frustratingly, God also knows when not to tinker.

This means that the way to engage the will, the path to a willing spirit, is not effort but prayer. “God, go down there, down where I cannot reach, down into the dark mess where the secret engines are. Make the changes I cannot make. Grant me a willing spirit each morning.”