(June 8, 2008)

At Living Room on Friday I’m planning on discussing Matthew 11:28-30, a passage that has had a huge impact on me:

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Such a wonderful thing to read when you’re going through tough times, especially when you haven’t made God part of your life before! I guess these verses meant most to me when I was just in the process of becoming a Christian. Yes, getting onboard did not happen to me all in one fell swoop.

A yoke is a contraption that links two animals like oxen together so they can pull farm equipment. It can also be something a person wears, in Asian countries, for example, with something – like a bucket  – hanging from each end. It is used to carry burdens.

A yoke suggests something oppressive; it suggests bondage. When we put on Christ’s yoke, we are bound to Him. We surrender our own will. His yoke brings our passions and desires for the sinful ways of the world under control. The yoke allows Jesus to guide our thoughts and actions, so we’ll follow His ways.

When I decided to come to Jesus and take His yoke upon me some twenty years ago, I welcomed it. I needed guidance. It meant that I finally had something meaningful to live for. The reason for my life became clearer to me. The yoke was easy and the burden was light. It wasn’t oppressive at all. In fact, it was freeing.

In my new book, A Firm Place to Stand, I tell a story about a young boy who didn’t receive rules from his parents. One day he was finally given some very specific rules. And that made him feel cared for. He felt that his Mom was paying attention to what he did. That’s what that yoke is like for me. It’s the yoke of a loving Father.

In his sermon today, our pastor said something I wonder about. He said that when we start following Christ things can become harder because we are no longer our own god. Life no longer revolves around us. I don’t know if I agree with that. It certainly wasn’t true for me.

How about you? What has Christ’s yoke meant to you in your life? Was it hard at first? Do you find His burden (joining Him in His work) hard to carry?