"Take it away."
This is a prayer that I've been praying about a spare tire I have had around my middle for most of my adult life. It had never really occurred to me to pray about this before, but I realized that really, what God wants from me is that I become the person that He created me to be, and He didn't create me to be fat. God is the God of health, of new creation and of beauty. He is not the God of tubby. As I have grown in my understanding of who it is that God wants me to be, I have realized that it is His will for me to be thin, and so I have asked Him to "take it away".
Now, I'm not an idiot. I understand that I have to do my part in bringing about God's slender, fat-burning kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. I have to skip the banana splits and start taking on regular jogs. So I pray "take it away" around those things, as well.
"God, please take away my desire for donuts."
"God, I repent of my love of french fries."
"Lord, please bless me with the determination to go for a run. My identity is in Jesus, and part of that is that I identify as skinny. Help me to jog for Jesus."
So I believe that as I take steps of faith - refusing chocolate and going for walks, God will honour my commitment and make me thin. I once went for almost three days without a milkshake, and I worked out with a dumbell twice. I was sure that on the third day I was going to wake up with the body of Chris Hemsworth, but that didn't happen.
I have to admit that I have moments of doubt on my discipleship path. These moments occur most often first thing in the morning when I step on the bathroom scale. Sometimes they occur halfway through a banana split. Sometimes they occur when I'm driving to have dinner with my neighbour next door. I don't understand why God has not removed my craving for carbs. I cannot see why He has not instilled a passion for push-ups. I cry out to Him for His help, I begin to question whether or not He even cares.
"Take it away."
This has got to be one of the most common prayers of the western Christian. There is something in our lives that is really bothering us, and we look to God to simply take it away. Usually the thing that we want taken away is a bad habit - we're hooked on something, and we know that that thing is getting in the way of the person we want to be. We feel imprisoned by our desire, unable to escape our craving, and so quite naturally we look to God to take the thing away.
The desire to have our Thing taken away is quite natural and even righteous. Obviously God wants to take away our sin, right? Jesus, after all, sets us free of sinful desire, so that little bit of overcoming should be no problem for Him. But really, what we're most often asking for is an instant cure. We know we need to do something to avoid our bad habits, but after a day or two of trying we give up and go back to square one.
The idea that Jesus would take away our sin immediately is something like expecting to wake up thin one morning after a lifetime of being overweight. With God, all things are possible, but not all things are equally likely. We're not likely to wake up tomorrow thin, and we're not likely to wake up having conquered all of our sinful desires. But very often, when our sins are NOT taken away, we simply give up, return to square one. Which is a lot like giving up and having a dozen donuts when we discover we've only lost a pound after a month of dieting.
The reality of the Christian life is that it is a process. The habits we grapple with took time to build, and they will take time to dismantle. The Christian life does not involve being suddenly zapped into Christlike character, it involves building Christlike character step by step. It's resisting the bad and embracing the good as best we can.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go find something to eat.