If you are a follower of Christ, I want you to think back to when you heard, understood, and believed the gospel. Do you remember what was going through your mind? Do you remember how your heart, both your literal, blood pumping heart and your figurative, soul-driving heart, pulsated at the very thought of the eternal transaction that was made on your behalf and in your favor? Do you remember at last having confidence that by the work of Christ on the cross, you would no longer, never, ever stand in condemnation? Do you remember how delightfully jarring it was/is to know that though you had violated God’s law and were (and truthfully, still are) very undeserving of such grace and mercy, you received it anyway?
I’m hopeful that you are not having too dig too far into the deepest recesses of your grey matter to pull those memories back in to your present thinking. But often Christians do lose sight of it. We end up not so much losing our amazement and joy, but not exercising it. It is not taken from us, we merely neglect it. Neglect it long enough, and your salvation becomes starved of its original amazement and joy. The result of that is a bland, milquetoast, lifeless Christian experience rather than the confident, passionate, victorious life that was assured for us by the cross, at the cross.
Please don’t read this as a rebuke, or if you do, read it as a rebuke of myself. I don’t want to lose that amazement or bewilderment. I daily want to live in light of the joy of my salvation. I want to be like the Psalmist who said “May we shout for joy over your salvation…” (Psalm 20:5). I want my words and my heart to mirror Habakkuk’s when he said “yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. (Habakkuk 3:18) – what’s really fascinating about Habakkuk’s declaration is that he is saying it in the face of suffering. Or we could take David who was caught in tremendous sin, was rebuked, and in repentance wrote Psalm 51 which includes this plea “Restore to me the joy of your salvation…” Daily, I want to have the joy that only Jesus offers “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11). May one of the dominant themes of my life be that I “rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Peter 1:8).
What I want to take permanent residence in my mind and heart is expressed on the face of one of my beauties pictured below:
Would you look at that face! Do you see the amazement in her face? Do you see the joy? I want my heart to everyday look like her face! Here is the story…while my mom was in town, my boys wanted to show off their shooting skills with first the bow, then the BB gun. As the marksmanship contest to impress Grandma was underway, this walking bottle of Pepto-Bismol joined the festivities. The second boy had completed his round and walked away. The one I affectionately call Babycakes remained and she had a question dangling from her eyes. I asked her if she would like to shoot the BB gun, reassured her that I would help her and protect her, and that it would not cause her to go deaf (my children are very particular about loud noises, which strikes me as odd because they are often the source of the loud noises). As you can see, I was with her and we practiced exceptional gun control, as there were four hands gripping the weapon. She received some assistance aiming at the burn bin in our backyard, 15 yards from where she was standing. When she was ready, I told her to squeeze the trigger. She hesitated, then squeezed, and upon hearing the “PING!” of the BB piercing through the rusty barrel, the picture above was her reaction (big photo credit to Grandma – thanks Mom!).
Oh that my heart would think on my salvation with such expression, with the right combination of stunned amazement and unbridled joy! Do you know what my pink princess did right after that? Shouted with joy and told everyone who would listen about what she had done. For the rest of the night. May my joy, and my amazement, over what Christ has accomplished on my behalf be proclaimed with such vigor, passion, and excitement. Let our hearts be overwhelmed, and “may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the Lord!” (Psalm 40:16). Remember, and rejoice.