Lenten Rest

Psalm 51:1-12; Isaiah 30:15-18; Hebrews 4:1-13 (read online ⧉)

Rest. That seems to be a dream for many these days. In these odd times of COVID-driven angst, rest can be fleeting. There is currently an emphasis around the world that people are to stay home. Normally, when staying at home (and the chores are done), that means some sort of rest. However, the busyness of the world still remains. In addition to the various forms of media, the internet, activities of various sorts, all seem to keep us from resting (and can keep us, for a time, sane when stuck inside), people are working from home at a rate never experienced before. If we were “back” to our “normal” our weekends were almost as full as the workweek.

It isn’t just COVID-19. It is a growing need to fill an emptiness. Yet, emptiness is not always what it seems. Is the glass half full, or half-empty? This is the question of optimism versus pessimism. What if the better question is, what is the glass full of? In normal circumstances, a glass is always full. If it filled halfway with water, then the remainder is filled with air. The glass is full, we just are blind to what it is full of.

People look at a glass that is not 100% filled and feel the need to fill it. Some feel such a drive to fill the glass, that they keep pouring into it until it overflows. There is no rest there. Imagine trying to pick up a glass completely full to the top with water to try to drink from it. Most of the time, you’re going to spill some water. The gap—the so-called unfilled part—allows the water to move with the glass, and you don’t spill.
When people keep going, and going, and going, and going, and going, at some point, everything turns to chaos or the breakdown, or they get sick. God did not intend us to keep going. Even the earth was supposed to be given a break from growing food. COVID-19 is creating another type of going that is as unhealthy (potentially more unhealthy) as the busyness as it is often laced with fear.

Lent can act as a disruptor of our busy lives—not so that we cannot do things, or get things done—but so that we are jolted out of our busy habits, in hopes that we might reflect upon what is important. In this particular season of COVID-19, rest seems even further out of reach than it often is with our busyness.
Sabbath (rest) is critical for our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. As many people are now in tight quarters, finding a way to get a Sabbath (rest) can be even more difficult and conversely is even more important.

When entering the Sabbath Rest, it is different than taking a nap or a vacation. It is a place and time where we are fully present with God so that God fills as we need, and as he wants us to be. This rest is where we release our expectations to God. When we allow God to outline his expectations, we will often find that his expectations are far less than ours, but that his fulfill our needs, desires, and wants far more than our finite understanding.

1) Do you set aside time each day, week, month, year to “sit” with God? If not, why not?

2) If you do, does it include a place (like a room, corner, or even a special place away)? Do you find places helpful in finding rest?

3) Why do you think we struggle in resting?

4) While the world tries to create more labor-saving things and techniques, it seems that there is less time. Why do you think that is?