"Take away the love of sinning,
Alpha and Omega be,
end of faith as it's beginning,
set our hearts at liberty."
--Charles Wesley, "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling"
On and after Ash Wednesday, conversations emerge about what we are going to "give up" for Lent. Some say they will eat meat less often, reduce the amount of sugar consumed, exercise every other day--no promises for daily exercise!--, read the Bible daily, be kinder to co-workers, etc. The list is endless.
My prayer for Lent is this: Dear God, take away the love of sinning from my heart. I am not very fearful about what used to be called "great, big sins", but there is a part of me that may be tempted to think I am better off doing things my way instead of doing things God's way. There is a part of me that still thinks I know more than does God about what will bring me lasting peace and satisfaction. Thinking in that way may be the clearest picture of sin.
As I seek God's way this Lent, I spend less time listening to what other people have to say and more time in prayer, meditation, and Bible study listening to what God has to say to me.
Is Jesus the Alpha and Omega to me? Is He really the beginning and ending of my faith? Has He become a means by which I can make myself better, make the world better and more just, succeed in business, acquire health and happiness, impress others with my goodness? How often am I tempted to believe that because I invoke or call His name into a situation that He endorses my actions in that situation?
As much as I would like to be happy, see true and lasting justice in the world, and maintain a measure of health and happiness, those things cannot be the final goal of my faith. I am reminded Jesus told Pilate "My kingdom is not of this world." Re-uniting, re-connecting, re-living with God must be the final goal of my faith. I cannot allow myself to be tempted to believe that God will be "used for my methods and purposes." In fact, the reverse is true: I must be always willing to be "used for God's methods and purposes."
"Take away the love of sinning." My struggle with the temptation to be less than God calls for reflects how much I love sin, how often I listen to the voice that says there is some better way apart from God's will and God's priorities. I trust that as God takes away the love of sinning from my heart, He will set my heart at libery to do His will, to be fully what He calls me to be, and to give me the deepest satisfaction in that place and in that state.