”For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”Matthew 11:30
You know how sometimes the most simple of truths can become the most hard learned lesson in life? I often feel that I rarely learn anything new but rather continue relearning the same simple truths over and over again. Each time something is added to enhance my perspective, to bring a new level of complexity and simultaneous simplicity. Matthew 11:30 has become one of those truths for me.
Yokes are used to keep animals in line. To be able to control and direct them as they perform the task that their owner wants them to do- and do well. Knowing Jesus (that’s really fun to say 🙂 ) I don’t think his use of the word was a mere coincidence. He knew the metaphor that was being painted with his words and the applications we would gain from it.
Oftentimes I find myself taking on the task of being both the animal and the farmer. I find the yoke I think I should wear, place it on myself, and then try to be the one who makes sure the job gets done to perfection. If I could actually do all of this perhaps it would be a pretty impressive feat. But as any farmer (or any animal who could speak) would tell you, it isn’t just impossible but it looks pretty silly if you try it. So why do I think I can be and do it all? Why do I honestly believe it is my duty to be both the farmer and the oxen?
I had never really connected Matthew 11:30 to self-sufficiency. But I think that Jesus knew all those years ago that one day, with his help, I would. Depending on me, leaning on my own understanding, seizing control of the reigns which guide the yoke in my life is not only ineffective but also leads to a number of negative consequences: burnout, frustration, fatigue, pride, anxiety. It results in me failing to play the role in my life that was meant to be played by God. How many times have I sat in anxiety, frustration, and fear wondering ‘What should I do next? How do I make this right?’. I rack my brain trying to find solutions to get back on task carrying the yoke that I picked up myself without even really knowing in what direction I am meant to be going. But what else can I do? What other choice do I have?
The answer, though simple, is often much too hard to accept. I must simply stop, allow Christ to take my self-imposed yoke that has led to much suffering, and place his yoke upon me. And only then will I see and feel the reality that his yoke is easy and his burden is light. I must allow him to be the one who guides, trusting in Him though I cannot see and do not know the way. And as scary as that may seem, it is also so much easier than trying to find the way myself. Faith may be costly, but it is not harsh or heavy. Only when I embrace this reality and leave my own burdens behind to take up his can I live out the purpose to which he has called me both joyfully and effectively. For only then have I truly chosen the better portion: Him.