Ugly Attachments

Ash Wednesday Reflection: Be Up and Awake!

“I was held back by my old attachments.  They plucked at my garment of flesh and whispered, ‘Are you going to dismiss us?’ “For I was still captive and in misery and am crying: ‘How long shall I go on saying tomorrow, tomorrow?’  Why not now?  Why not make an end of my ugly sins?’ 

St. Augustine. Confessions.

God’s personal Message!—“Come back to me and really mean it!
Come fasting and weeping, sorry for your sins!” Change your life, not just your clothes. Come back to God, your God.  And here’s why: God is kind and merciful. He takes a deep breath, puts up with a lot, This most patient God, extravagant in love, always ready to cancel catastrophe.”
  Joel 2 The Message Bible

The life and faith story of St. Augustine (354-430 AD), one of the most significant thinkers in early Christianity, could be just as well be someone’s story in our day. His mother was a devout believer and his father was an atheist.  Although raised as a Christian, he abandoned his faith while studying philosophy and law. As a teenager he hung out with rebellious friends and got a girl pregnant. Later, as an adult teaching in Rome, he was influenced by many philosophies and struggled with what to believe.  At age 31, he had a come to Jesus encounter after hearing an inner voice which told him to take up the Bible and read.  He was drawn to repentance and trust while reading this passage:

Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.  Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” Romans 13:13-14.

Reflect: Let Go of Ugly Attachments. Take some time to slowly and prayerfully re-read Augustine’s quote and this Message Bible version of Romans 13:13-14 that transformed his spiritual life:

Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed. We can’t afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don’t loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!

Take note of phrases that jump out and speak your heart prayer. Name with humility and honesty the habits, material possessions, or people that have held you captive.  Confess where you have squandered time and resources in selfishness and comfort.

Practice.   Choose a Lenten Fast. Genuinely commit to “letting go” or “fasting” from any relationships, agendas, social media, or things you watch or participate in that keep you in “ugly attachments”. Go deep and allow the practice of fasting to reflect your desire to change your heart and return to God.

Worship. After all the soul searching, allow yourself some time to rest in worship with Audrey Assad’s song “Restless” and St. Augustine’s quote:

“You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in You.”

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