The clock has tipped past midnight and spilled over into a new day. My eyes are growing blurry as I stare down at a folded piece of paper with my hand writing sprawled across it. I had grabbed the piece of paper from my book bag after a phone conversation and hastily written down what I was thinking before going back to my coffee and studying. It reads:
“Create in me a clean heart and renew within me a right ATTITUDE.”
I even underlined the word attitude for extra emphasis beyond the capital letters.
You see, I’m staring down the gun at age twenty-five, and I still haven’t got it all figured out. I still need correction, even though I dislike it as much as ever. I still need direction, even though I make my own decisions these days. I still need attitude adjustments and heart check-ups. I need gentle reminders about the consequences of my actions, words of counsel about the choices I make, and boundaries to guide me. I still need my pastor to preach about what places I should and should not frequent, whom I should listen to, and where I should place my priorities.
Sometimes I still have that same attitude David had prior to his prayer in Psalm 51. You know, the attitude that chooses what I want over what is right. It’s the one that isn’t always willing to pay attention to caution lights or warning signs. Instead, I think that my thoughts are logical, and my actions are justified. Perhaps David’s sin with Bathsheba is an extreme example, but at some point along the way David ignored what he had been taught and did things his own way. I struggle with that attitude too—sometimes on a small, insignificant scale—but too often it invades larger issues and situations.
David had the right response in Psalm 51:10 when he wrote, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” David asked for an attitude adjustment after he was confronted by Nathan the prophet about his sin. Of course, David had to deal with some ugly consequences that could have been avoided if he had listened in the first place. This leads me to the next point.
Underneath the underlined and capitalized “attitude,” I wrote a number “1” followed by the words, “Willingness to hear.” I want to hear and listen to God’s voice of correction speaking in my life. It may be through my spirit, or Bible reading, via my pastor, or sound a lot like my parents. Regardless, I want to hear it, and I want to welcome correction. Easy to say; hard to do. It’s hard to hear that you are doing something wrong. It rubs wrong and is difficult to swallow; however, it is worse to be wrong and refuse to acknowledge it.
The second point I scribbled down goes right along with the first: “desire to change.” This takes me right back to my childhood when I tried to use the excuse of “I just can’t help it” on my Dad. This excuse usually came right after I was told … err; we decided I had made a wrong choice. He never fell for my excuse, but instead insisted that I take responsibility for my actions and make the effort to change those actions. And really, the story is still the same today. We must recognize where we are wrong and have a genuine desire to change.
Number three on my list is the hardest one yet: “The guts to do it.” It is hard to change. It’s hard to tell your friends that you are not going to join them again when you’ve joined them before. It’s difficult to delete that song you paid for off your playlist. It’s not easy to break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend because he or she doesn’t share your faith and values. It’s hard to stand up for something when you’ve ignored the issue in the past. It’s difficult to adjust your attitude when it’s wrong, and it’s hard to have the right attitude about making change in your life.
Seven verses after David asked for a clean heart and a right spirit, he wrote, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” When it all comes down to it, we need the right attitude about correction. We need to be willing to allow our will and our spirit to be broken. We must listen, repent, and make right. We must do so by having an attitude that welcomes correction, that has a desire to change, and is gutsy enough to make change happen in our lives. We will be all the better for it.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew within me a right attitude.