Ironically, the articulation of rest seems to have required the most work of all Ten Commandments. You may also notice, only the Fourth Commandment changes from Exodus 20 to Deuteronomy 5. I’ll address that in the video. For now, it may help to consider an illustration on the purpose of rest.
In 1994 at Fort Drum, NY, I was an enlisted Soldier in Air Assault School learning to rig and inspect cargo loads, and rappel from helicopters 90 feet off the ground. A little scary, but as a young Soldier, I was on a mission: to pay off college. I’m kidding…mostly. I was also immersing myself in Army life for my long-term goal of serving as a Chaplain. If I was to serve well, I wanted to understand their challenges, including the process of becoming what Soldiers often refer to as a “dope on a rope”.
The training was hard work. Every day, somebody dropped from the course. Some failed physical tests; many couldn’t identify pre-arranged rigging mistakes in timed tests; and a few just quit. They feared the tall tower. To be honest, I thought it, too. But how could I serve them well if I just gave up? Soldiers face much bigger challenges. Besides, I only had the tower and the helicopter to go.
Over the two full and fast weeks, our instructors had prepared us for the increasingly difficult training. They had taught us how to tie our own “Swiss seat”: a specific tight wrap of thick rope around our hip bones, upper thighs, and groin that would the primary support between the helicopter above us and our bodyweight, our full rucksack, and our other combat gear. It hurt, but it was strong and secure.
My only time down the tall tower was a little scary. But, as usual, our instructors double-checked our seats for safety. And for each of us they assigned a person “on belay” on the ground side of our rope. If we were in trouble, that person could simply pull the rope which weaved through D-rings on our seat to immediately slow our decent. I was resting in their good hands, until the helicopter rappel.
The instructor warned us, “When you’re coming out, do not grip the rope with your guide hand above you. The friction will burn right through your gloves. Use your break hand behind you, and trust who and what you’ve been given.” But I panicked. The added rucksack and rotor wash made my descent much faster, and I gripped that rope as hard, resting in my own wisdom and strength. My glove and flesh were eaten away immediately. If I was ever to rappel with confidence, I knew I had to go again.
Again, the irony of rest was powerful. Knowing that my now limp, bloody guide hand couldn’t support me, there was no option: I had to rest fully in all that had been provided for me. And it was a breeze.
Similarly, rest in Christ is not a lack of work. It’s entrusting our full weight to Him as provided for us.
You can see other articles and the embedded videos in this series here.