Psalm 51:12,15-17 – Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. (KJV)
I am not quite the baseball fan or follower that my father is, but I do enjoy a good game every now and then, and like to follow some of major league baseball's better hitters. I became quite engulfed in the big home run races of the past couple of years. Watching Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa slam balls out of parks each week was quite exciting to me. I think on average they say that Mark hits a home run approximately once in every eleven plate appearances. But one thing I have come to learn from watching and following baseball is that even the greatest of hitters go through their difficult times. They are said to be in a hitting "slump" when their performance drops off for a few games, or maybe even a few weeks.
If my spiritual life were related to a baseball player right now, I suppose you could say that I have been in a slump. And just like any player would tell you, a slump is not the easiest thing to get out of. The difficult thing is that when one is in a slump it is not generally because one has intentionally changed anything in his style. One is still doing the same things and for the most part doing them the same way, but with different or failing results. That is exactly where I seem to be right now. I still do pretty much the same things in my life each day: I have a daily quiet time each morning, I prepare and study for my Sunday School lesson, I am at church on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. But regardless of the fact that my routine has not changed, the results have.
I just have begun to feel like I am not going (or growing) anywhere spiritually — even to the point of sometimes doubting my salvation. So what do you do when you are in such a slump? Hitters often go to the hitting coach, or just to the hitting cages, to try and determine why it is that they are in a slump. Generally the result is that they discover that in fact something in their swing or stance had changed without their having even noticed. They had been doing so well that they had allowed themselves to feel too "comfortable" or relaxed in what they were doing, and they lost focus.
That is the same for us as Christians. We allow ourselves to get too comfortable in what we are doing and before we know it, we are in a slump and our focus is gone. We lose sight of the joy that we had when we first came into God's family. We continue to "do the right things" but we forget why it is we are doing them. That is when we must remember the words of David in Psalm 51. He asks God to restore unto him the joy of his salvation, to bring his focus back to where it should be. Let us notice the result. David's eyes are opened and he realizes what the Lord desires of him. God desires not sacrifices and offerings but rather a broken spirit and a contrite heart. The same is true for us. God's true desire for us is not one of deeds and actions, but rather the proper attitude and desire behind our deeds and actions. He desires for our spirits and hearts to be broken in such a way that our greatest longing and desire is to serve and praise Him. This may require us to step beyond our comfort zone, and God may then call us to areas we have never been to before. But only then will we come out of our slump and be restored to the joy that God would have for us.
Prayer: Our heavenly Father, and author of our salvation, we come to you asking for guidance and strength. Lord, when we know that our spiritual lives are not what they need to be, restore unto us the joy of our salvation so that we might offer unto you acceptable sacrifices of broken spirits and hearts. Amen.