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