I’m sitting in a coffee shop, rain tapping against the windows. I have a mountain of homework, I have to get ready for work the next day, I have to make dinner and clean and do laundry. It’s a busy day and I’m just existing to get through.
A song enters my head, lyrics that for some reason still cling to memory years after hearing them. It’s a Jon Foreman song, “White As Snow”. The lyrics are:
Would you create in me a pure heart, O God
Restore in me
The joy of Your salvation
I had been doing a devotion earlier, Psalm 51. The verses stuck out to me because I had heard them before in the song. I knew they were Biblical, but I had never gone searching for the actual passage. Without meaning to find the verses, they found me instead. The verses and lyrics are rolling around in my head and I finally stop to put the pieces together. I feel the weight of David’s crying out to God echo through thousands of years of Christians struggling with confusion and doubt and a lack of joy.
I think sometimes about whether I’m really saved, whether I’ve really truly understood “the joy of salvation”. In a world of tangible matters like a husband who asks if I can help with the dishes and children at work who need me to help them put their shoes on and the endless papers I print out and delicately place flat into my backpack so they’re not wrinkled for school, it’s hard to feel the joy of something spiritual. I can understand a warm embrace, doing my job well, accomplishing a task. Sometimes I cannot wrap my head around the whisper from heaven that says I’m saved and I’m loved by the Father. Sometimes I feel joy after a great sermon or worship song, sometimes I go days feeling nothing at all.
But I take comfort, today in the coffee shop as the rain runs in rivulets down the glass. In the drops of water I see the messy connectedness of believers, some droplets running together for a time before diverging into separate rivers or sitting quietly on their own before fading back into mist. Sometimes we feel connected to the church body and to Christ, sometimes we lack the joy of salvation and we wander alone for a time. David felt it, even as the beloved of God, striking down armies in His name. He had everything: a throne, beautiful women, power, respect. But he still cried out to God to be restored to the cleanliness and purity of those washed by grace, and he still struggled with the temptation to abandon God for the false joys of this fragile life.
Who knew that thousands of years later Jon Foreman would sing David’s lyrics, with the same lament and crying out to be restored? I see with clarity the endless crowds of Christians through Biblical times to now, all hurting and wondering why things don’t feel right and why God feels so far away. The truth is that we all lack the joy of salvation. We all desperately need to be washed white as snow, daily. Hourly.
At this point in life, I do not feel the joy of salvation. I’ve been so consumed by my own life and the seemingly meaningless tasks I have to complete day by day, that I cannot see the larger picture of salvation and glory. I stand with David, or rather, I fall to my knees in front of the Father with David, crying out for the clean heart and the joy of salvation I desperately need. That we all desperately need.
So I will sing, every day. I will plead with God that He would wash me white as snow, so I may be made whole.
In the coffee shop, the rain still pours down. The clouds will not break, the work I have to do is still waiting. I still feel empty and useless. But I keep thinking of Psalm 51 and the lyrics of Jon’s song. I am not alone. I will continue to ask that the joy of salvation be restored, and I trust that I will feel it someday soon.