“I myself will pasture my sheep; I myself will give them rest, says the Lord God.” Ezekiel 34:15
We attempt to find rest in so many things. In vacations and brainless movies. On the beach and in the quiet mornings. These things are not bad in and of themselves, but God is asking us to look further- not to things that simply manifest Him as an escape, but to draw you to Himself.
Lent is a time to examine ourselves, to enable us to go deeper, and one thing that God has been speaking to me about is this concept of rest. I find that I many times have confused this concept of rest with mere distraction, which even something so beautiful as a sunset can be.
We seem to be more focused on the object or event than the Master. But Jesus wants us to go deeper. Is the thing you are observing and doing to find that rest drawing you to Him? Or is it completely mindless, only taking up time that you already don’t have?
The difference is that His rest produces fruit and futile rest is a time waster
With the coronavirus pandemic upon us, many of us have had our lives upended for the next two weeks. Here in South Florida, courts have been closed, schools have been closed and mass gatherings have stopped. As our schedules are cleared and the promise of time has returned to us, the Lord is asking us,
What will you do with the time?
There are so many beautiful bible verses that can help us to reflect on this, and they all say the same thing, time on this earth is not promised. So when we are given back time by God, what do we do with it?
“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we shall go into such and such a town, spend a year there doing business, and make a profit”—you have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow. You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears. Instead you should say, “If the Lord wills it, we shall live to do this or that.” James 4:13-15
The bible commentary on this passage says this, “If the Lord wills it: often in piety referred to as the “conditio Jacobaea,” the condition James says we should employ to qualify all our plans.”
So “conditio Jacobaea” is a state of mind, of being. Of gauging everything we do through the will of God. It is a contemplation, a movement of soul which forces us to reconcile with our own powerlessness and sends our eyes to gaze back upon God.
So the idea of Lenten rest is not to benefit our bodies alone, but more deeply our souls. Lenten rest is not for us or about us, but about Him. So with the giving of time by God comes the responsibility of its usage.
Will your eyes be on a screen or on me?
As our country and our world continue to monitor the mass casualty effects of COVD-19, let us use the time we have been given back wisely. As Christians, let us turn our eyes from death to life, and embrace our Lenten rest. This rest which is guaranteed to bear fruit, will lead us to prayer which will always lead us back to Him.
Show me how to really rest in you. This may be through a good spiritual book, meditating on your Word, or simply resting in your presence. I thank you for the gift of time and pray that with your help, I will use it wisely. Always, I come in gratitude to you and subservient to your Will.
In Jesus Name,