Leaders around the world are supposed to understand The Rule of Holes – when you find yourself in a hole and you are not supposed to be there, stop digging. Sadly, many of them do not understand it. Clearly, many politicians and bureaucrats, celebrities and professional athletes do not understand the Rule of Holes.
More sadly, many believers in Christ do not understand the importance of the Rule of Holes, either. And because they don’t understand, they weary themselves with a life and religiosity they were never supposed to pursue.
W. Ian Thomas, one of my favorite authors, has this to say about resting while digging a hole.
“Suppose you were digging a hole, and I offered to give you a rest. how would I do it? While you continued shoveling, I could call down a suggestion to you, such as, “Try tossing the dirt over your left shoulder instead of your right.” I could sing a song about digging, or discuss all the latest philosophical thinking that might relate to it.
“Would any of that give you rest? No, it would more likely give you a heart attack!
“Yet those approaches are very much like what today’s Christianity tied to do to bring rest to struggling believers, all in vain.”
Our God intends for you and me to find rest in Him daily, to not struggle through the labors we gather to ourselves. He has called us to the ancient path, the narrow path, the way of following Him that has been His desire for us from ages past.
From the time He breathed His own life into Adam, giving Him not just human life but His own divine life, the Lord has desired to live His life in union with us. This Eden union provided a life of rest to the first couple and was our God’s intention for the entire human race.
When Adam rebelled and chose living his own self-directed life, he lost the divine life. And ever since, humankind has been like the digger in Ian Thomas’s illustration. To gain the God life for which we all long, humans have been digging and digging into religiosity and self-help and all manner of efforts to better their lives. All to no avail.
Our God was not content to leave us to struggle along by our own wits and skills. He intends to restore the union He enjoyed initially with Adam and Eve, to live His life in and through us. He intends to bring us into His rest – the rest of faith in God.
It is His life lived in us that provides the rest for our souls promised in Jeremiah 6:16, “This is what the Lord says: stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find a resting place for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’”
That our God intended this rest for us is prophetically promised in other passages in the Old Testament, such as Isaiah 30:15 “For this is what the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has said: “In repentance and rest you will be saved, In quietness and trust is your strength.” But you were not willing.”
The promises of rest in the prophets and from Jesus are amazingly consistent. They are tied to the outpouring of the Spirit of God, which in Isaiah is somewhere in the future, but with Jesus is imminent. That outpouring came at the first Pentecost of the new church of Jesus Christ. This is the New Covenant life of the Holy Spirit in us.
You might ask, “Does the rest promised by our God mean we have nothing to do when He is living His life in place of ours?” Christian rest is not inactivity. The rest of faith comes when our Lord Jesus carries the load in us by His Holy Spirit. You see, our God is never passive, never inactive. When we truly let go and let our God live His life in us, the rest we experience will involve more activity, not less.
This is the rest of faith. It is your hands with which He is at work. It is your mouth by which He is speaking. He is seeing and hearing with your eyes and ears and responding through your heart. To “let go and let God” is not inactivity. It is Christ-activity in you, God in action to accomplish His will and purposes through your personality.
To find rest means that we “let go and let God” work His life in us. This is a difficult transition in us because our very nature is screaming, scratching, scrambling to retain control of our living. And we have all been steeped in the religious thinking of the times which tells us to work in our flesh to try to make our God happy enough with us that we get by.
The last word, from W. Ian Thomas: “How could I truly give you rest if you were in that hole digging? Obviously, there is only one way: You must get out and let me get in. You must drop the spade and let me pick it up. You must quit and let me take over. You must vacate that hole in the ground so that I can occupy it.
“That is the way the Lord Jesus wants to give you and me rest. “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29). This is His offer…”Get out, and let Me get in. Vacate, and let me occupy. Drop the spade, and let me dig.”