What was it that Jesus saw when he invited the masses to follow him and find rest? Was it their desperate faces? Empty stares? Did he sense tension? Failure? Did he feel their need for contentment they couldn’t find? Jesus didn’t give them permission to call in sick and disconnect from their responsibilities. He offered them rest for their souls.
If God Rested . . .
When God created the world, he stopped working, tweaking, improving, re-doing and rested. I don’t know what it looks like when God rests. Maybe that’s why we have trouble following His example. I know He is not a do-nothing God. Whatever rest means for God it is not a lounging, lazy, irresponsible disengagement from everything that He cares about. I wonder if it is when he enjoyed every good thing He created, watched animal antics and smiled, breathed the fragrance of flowers, enjoyed the vastness and balance. He rested within what He created without the pressure of doing more.
Do we know how to do that? We pack our days so full that even the energy of Wonder Woman or Super Man couldn’t complete everything we put on our hopeful agendas. We push, multi-task, schedule, chauffeur, organize, supervise, clean up, and fall into bed physically weary but still thinking and planning for the next day.
Lent is a time to take a thoughtful journey with Jesus and find his rhythm, his center, his balance. We stay so busy that we don’t process the journey, sometimes we barely experience it. What would happen if we took Jesus’ words literally but not irresponsibly? What if we listened to Jesus’ invitation to stop carrying our burdens as if we were the only one who could carry them? What if we asked for his gentle lessons about how to live without trying to kill ourselves with overwork and under-rest?
There is a place of quiet rest, near to the heart of God.
Claim five minutes to rest there until all you hear is how much He loves you. Stay until you allow God’s inexhaustible love for you to extinguish every hint of incompleteness that makes you feel not good enough. Rest your soul by laying aside your brutal demands of yourself. Let God breathe on you His exclamation of delight in who you are completely separate from what you do.
Soul rest will take us to Easter where we will be able to understand in a new way what God’s all-power can do. Soul rest will help us realize that our balanced cooperation with God in every area of our lives brings results our frenetic activity will never see. Soul rest helps us see what God calls good and we put more of it into our days.
Come, Jesus said. It is an invitation, not a command. But we lose more than we can afford when we ignore it.
Lent Scripture Readings 2018*
Wednesday: Hebrews 4:9-10
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God. For anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.
What do you think God received from rest that he didn’t get from creation work? Is that what you are missing? Consider how you can rest your soul His way, today.
Thursday: Isaiah 30:15b
In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.
What does repentance have to do with rest? How does quiet trust bring soul rest? What must you repent (turn away from) in order to experience this soul rest?
Friday: Psalm 51:6
Surely you desire truth in the inner parts, you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.
How is telling the truth to God the only way you can receive God’s wisdom? Where have you substituted your wisdom and best practices without enjoying His soul rest? What truth do you need to confess to God?
Saturday: John 12:3
Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
What priceless gift do you bring to break at Jesus’ feet? What fragrance do your actions add to family life? Work? The family of God?
Fifth Sunday in Lent: John 12:20
Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.”
Is that your request this Sabbath? What is the connection between “seeing Jesus” and finding rest? What prayer that will prepare you to worship best?
Monday: 2 Corinthians 3:3a, 4
You show that you are a letter from Christ . . . Not that we are competent to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.
Who is your “letter” addressed to? Do you identify your competence by God only? How does competence through God rest you and make you a better “letter?”
Tuesday: Psalm 119:10-11
I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
What is the connection between God’s Word and developing a whole-heart search for God’s will? How does God’s Word protect you from straying? Find a verse from this week that you want to “hide” in your heart and let it shape your seeking.
*To download this week's scripture readings, click here.
To download last year's daily readings, click here.
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