Here at Newberry College, we sponsor series of devotionals during the seasons of Advent and Lent. The installments are written by faculty, staff, alumni, students, and/or friends of the college. Typically, the devotional takes the form of an assigned passage of Scripture, followed by a brief reflection and a prayer. I wrote the devotionals for this past Friday, today, and tomorrow.
Gen 3: 7-13 (KJV)
And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
8 And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.
9 And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
13 And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
Aristotle described humanity as “the rational animal.” It might be more apt, however, to consider ourselves to be rationalizing animals. It is all too easy for us to find “reasons” for doing the things we know we shouldn’t do. The reasons, of course, are mere excuses, and we can come up with them both before and after we do the wrong thing.
When God confronts Adam and Eve in the Garden, He asks them if they have done something they knew they shouldn’t do. Adam says he did, but he blames Eve, and Eve blames the serpent in turn. Neither of the people John Milton called our first parents are willing to accept the truth that they have chosen to violate God’s ordinance – they have chosen to sin.
Lent is a time in which we force ourselves to acknowledge the wrongs we have done, and to acknowledge further that it is impossible for us to erase those wrongs through our own effort. It’s the time when we must abandon the excuses we make to God and to ourselves, and accept that we are sinners in need of salvation.
Lord, we have fallen short. We do what we should not, and we fail to do what we should. Help us to accept that responsibility, and to be grateful that instead of relying on our own excuses, we can turn to Your saving Love. In Your name we pray, Amen.