Day 1

The Heart of Lent

Genesis 3:17-19, Psalm 78:1-7, Isaiah 30:15-18, Joel 2:12, Acts 3:19-20, Romans 3:22-23, Colossians 2:6-14

From the moment our first parents were deceived by the serpent, we have been striving. “You will eat bread by the sweat of your brow until you return to the ground,” God told them (Genesis 3:19). And so we toil—whether sitting at a desk or plowing the land, studying for classes or scouring job listings, growing children or crops or companies. The work is not easy and, truth be told, it overtakes us. It is no surprise, then, that this is how we view the work of our salvation: as a matter of toiling and striving.

If achievement and acclaim are our chief end, effort is our primary means. That is the world’s gospel, but it is not the gospel of Jesus. The salvation offered by God in Jesus Christ does not follow the world’s rule of merit. All of Scripture is a story of God’s unearned love and unmerited faithfulness toward a rebellious people. It is an exodus story, where the primary job of the recuee is to trust the Rescuer.

Isaiah 30:15 reads: “For the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said: ‘You will be delivered by returning and resting; your strength will lie in quiet confidence.’” It’s a deep breath, this verse. A deliverance that comes from rest and quiet? What a dream.

But rest and quiet—much less returning to our holy God—do not come naturally to our Genesis 3 hearts. Our tendency is to run. The verse continues: “But you are not willing. You say, ‘No! We will escape on horses’—therefore you will escape!—and, ‘We will ride on fast horses’—but those who pursue you will be faster” (Isaiah 30:15-16).

We cannot outrun, outwit, or outwork our sin. No amount of effort or grit or good intention can deliver us from the world of death and dust. As hopeless as it may sound, this truth rings of freedom! We cannot deliver ourselves, but the One who can deliver us has come.

Lent is a long, slow season where we pause to remember who we are, who God is, and what Jesus has done. We are made from dust with love and intention, in the image of our Creator (Genesis 1:27). We have sinned and we are sinners, incapable of saving ourselves (Romans 6:23). Jesus Christ is the perfect expression of God’s eternal love and faithfulness, given to reconcile us to Himself (Colossians 1:19-20). We are invited to repent of our sin, return to our merciful and compassionate God, and rest in the freedom of His grace and forgiveness (Acts 3:19-20).

His love for us cannot be outdone or undone. Enter this season of repentance and remembrance with humility, willing to see and confess your sin. And enter with confidence, trusting in the completed work of Jesus Christ on your behalf. Don’t bother running away on fast horses or hiding behind your best efforts. Run to Him, and rest.

Written by Amanda Bible Williams

Post Comments (7)

7 thoughts on "The Heart of Lent"

  1. RD Cogswell says:

    Understanding that I fall short of the glory of God helps me think appropriately about repentance. That God has done everything for me to return to him. He has allowed me to find restoration and times of refreshing in the middle of His Grace! Thank you Jesus!

  2. Matt Baker says:

    I was very performance oriented for a long time in my life. This came from years of playing sports. The harder you work, the better you will be. Not earning salvation made no sense to me. It took a lot of prayer to change my mindset on this, but I have since been relieved of a great weight and relish living in God’s unchanging love!

  3. Kyle says:

    “You will be delivered by returning and resting.” Isaiah 30:15
    This verse hit me hard, going into lent. Over the past week, I’ve gone back and forth, “Oh, I need to give this up. But what about that? Okay that too.” I’ve been way too focused on the things I’m giving up that it’s no longer making more room for God to work. It’s building up my ego, making me feel better about myself because of all the things I want to give up.
    My prayer going into lent is that my attention won’t be focused on the things I’m giving up, but focused on returning and resting in God’s presence.

  4. Kyle Epp says:

    Wow! How easy it is to get caught up in the hustle of life, and to completely ignore a passage like Isaiah 30:15! We are so naturally disposed to work and toil, and the thought of resting for our salvation is entirely foreign!

    Lord Jesus, have mercy on me for my toiling. Help me to return to you, and to rest in you, for only as I learn to do this will I find the gift of your salvation. Help me to find strength in my quietness and confidence. Do not let me become one who chases after the horses or chariots of Egypt, but rather make me one who finds simple serenity and peace in you! Amen!

  5. Bill Wilson says:

    The complete juxtaposition of the curse and our salvation was reawakened in my mind with this reading. While each day is consumed with hard work, there is no striving or toiling for our salvation. Jesus Christ has created a new way. A better way. He has come to earth and completed the work as the new Adam. Now we need only to rest, repent, trust, and be saved.

  6. Andrew Kwasigroh says:

    This was perfect timing for me to start this plan. I am currently toiling with myself. I have been chasing getting a job and trying to convince myself I chose the right career path, while I haven’t been able to get any headway at all. I keep chasing the career/job and I haven’t been chasing Him. I keep telling myself in “his timing” but I keep trying to do it on my own and not allowing him to work. I need to quit chasing the job and truly chase him and spend time with him. I need to step back and listen for the still calm voice of the Holy Spirit.

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