Forced rest and restoration

Is this time a unique opportunity for growing our character and closeness with God?

Reading through Leviticus recently, I was reminded again of God’s ‘forced sabbath’ for the land. He had promised that if Israel didn’t keep the covenant, they would be exiled, and the land would “enjoy its sabbath years all the time that it lies desolate and you are in the country of your enemies” (Leviticus 26:34). But Israel never ‘rested’ and let the land lie fallow every seventh year. During the 70 years of the Babylonian exile, God gave the land all the sabbath rest which the people of Israel did not (2 Chronicles 36:21).

Many of us Christians have allowed ourselves to become just as busy as the world around us. Among all that COVID-19 throws up, perhaps the clearing of our calendars forces upon us the space we need to refresh our relationship with the Lord.

I worry however in this time we might slide into a trap of our age – to think that content is king. Never before has so much information—including Christian—been available to us. Among all the YouTube and Netflix on offer, it has been great to see many Christian colleges and websites in recent days open up courses and materials for free. There are many good opportunities for you to learn. But don’t be mistaken. Receiving information is only one step towards transformation. Consuming content is easy. What is harder is forming character and closeness with the Lord. 

How might we make the most of this enforced rest? Not merely through learning, but using our time to reflect on the Bible, and to reflect on our lives. We need to make space to properly come before the Lord and pray. Busy parents may have less time for taking in information but perhaps more time to build Christian character and call on God for grace! 

You may already be doing this and find it easy. But for those of us who find it hard, this strange time may be a gift from the Lord.