I’ve known these words, this passage, since I was a teenager. In high school and college I learned a song based on this scripture. But today as I read these words from The Voice translation, several new ideas occurred to me that I want to think about and share.
Psalm 51, verses ten through twelve, says this:
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; restore within me a sense of being brand new.
“Do not throw me far away from Your presence, and do no remove Your Holy Spirit from me.
“Give back to me the deep delight of being saved by You; let Your willing Spirit sustain me.”
As I was copying out these familiar words, I focused on what they mean to me today, fifty years after I first learned them through a song.
First I wondered: how in the world could a 64-year-old woman ever again feel “brand new?” Consider a brand-new product—a toaster, for example. The new toaster is shiny, with no nicks or fingerprint smears. The inside is clean, free of burnt crumbs and singed sesame seeds. The cord is new and flexible, with no frayed wires or dust build-up. It’s so perfect, you almost hate to place it in your kitchen, where you know its beauty won’t last long. Forgive me for anthropomorphizing, but it’s almost like the toaster is eager to start toasting! It wants to do what it was created to do.
But I’m not a new toaster. I’m the old familiar toaster, the one that’s about to be replaced. I’m a bit beat-up, and some of my settings don’t work so well anymore. I’m covered with the grime of use and age, and my insides are littered with the crumbs of previous years – the successes and failures, trials and adventures of a long and active life. Maybe it’s time to be cast aside for a newer model.
But if the toaster in this analogy had belonged to my dad, it would not end up in the garbage. My dad’s motto was “why replace it when you can fix it?” He would have taken the toaster apart, cleaned out its interior, disposed of the crumbs and debris, re-wired the control buttons, and put it all back together with a new electric cord and a freshly polished exterior. Back on the countertop, the toaster would be ready to perform its duties faithfully for many more years to come.
I’m sure you see where I’m going with this! You might think that it’s self-centered of me to use my dad in this comparison as an analog for God. Please know that it’s not my intention to be disrespectful or blasphemous. But I can imagine God our Father hearing my plea: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; restore within me a sense of being brand new!” I know that my Father can clean me up, take me apart and empty out the messes left over from the difficulties and hardships I have faced in the past. Although the scrubbing may be uncomfortable, He is able to scrape off the layers of fear, loneliness, pride, and laziness that have collected on me over the years. He can rid me of the bitterness I may still entertain, the grudges I hold, the disappointments that left me wary and suspicious and closed off. He can fix my broken connections, with people and institutions, and best of all, he can replace my worn-out cord and plug, restore the connection I need to tap in to His power, the power of the Holy Spirit.
When repaired and restored, I can once again feel the “deep delight” of fulfilling my purpose, even if I don’t completely understand what it is. As long as I stay plugged in, the Power will be available when I need it, for whatever task the Father assigns.