Rest Experienced, Rest Embodied
Lent is a season of preparation, of slowing-down, of getting ready. Specifically, we’re preparing ourselves for the astonishing news of Easter. In order to prepare well for something, we have to take time to pause, reflect and rest. But that’s hard. Life in Lent doesn’t stop. We keep going a full, frenetic pace in our work and relationships and lives. So, how do we rest well in Lent? What does biblical rest look like anyway?
The biblical idea of rest is not inactivity or idleness. Biblical rest primarily refers to what happens when someone leaves an old world and enters into a new one. Hebrews 3 and 4 refer to three different worlds or realms of rest: Creational rest, Exodus rest, and rest in Christ.
In the story of creation, God conquers the chaotic, dark waters of Genesis 1:2 by giving form to them and filling them. When his work of creation was complete, God rested. God’s new world had arrived. It was finished and he was satisfied in it – Rest established.
In the story of the Exodus, God conquers the chaotic, dark world of Egypt and promises to bring his people into the new world of Canaan. But along the way, they rebelled, and because of their unbelief did not enter into rest – Rest eluded.
In the story of Christ, Jesus conquers the chaotic, dark world of sin and death and brings his people into the new world of resurrection life. Jesus has passed through the heavens (Hebrews 4:14) and as the one who sits on the throne is “making all things new” (Revelation 21:5). His work of redemption is a “new creation” – Rest enacted.
As people of the new world- the resurrected world of the Kingdom of Christ- we experience that rest ourselves and are to bring that rest to others. As people of rest, we are to begin to live out the future world of the resurrection right now in the present. Rest experienced. Rest embodied.
So what does it look like to “rest well” in Lent? Often we are kept from rest in Christ because we look for it elsewhere –in food or drink, or in spending money. Maybe during Lent we give up one of these things, fasting for a day or from a certain meal, giving up alcohol or eating out less often. And even though life doesn’t stop in Lent, consider during this season making space to pause, reflect, and rest in God’s Word. Set aside a time and a place (maybe shedding another activity to make room) to read, to pray, and to practice the rest of the Kingdom of Christ in order that you might embody that rest to others.
The resurrection isn’t something we should think about once every seven days. Resurrection life is a constant reality – a new way of living, even during the season of Lent. Resurrection rest can be forged, even in the midst of great unrest in our lives. Resurrection rest can be forgotten, even in the midst of ease and comfort. Resurrection rest is about Jesus. Rest ended.