In my last post I said I'd be thinking about the yoke. That is exactly what has happened. As I ran into challenges along the way last week, and there were quite a few, my mind went back to the picture of two oxen yoked together. (Even though I didn't really like that picture...more on that in a minute.) Jesus right there, really close, yoked to me, me to Him. It actually made me pause and caused me to tangibly feel His presence. I had thought the yoke meant to let Him pull the weight. I've heard teaching on that most of my life...don't strain against the yoke. Walk in step with Him and the weight will fall on His strong shoulders. Maybe, yes...but what I experienced wasn't a call to stop running ahead or dragging my feet, instead it was, well, just Him. It seemed to me He kept whispering, "I'm right here."
That makes sense to me too when you consider the words of Matthew 11:29, "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." I also know to be yoked to a rabbi, meant/means to follow in their steps, to be a disciple. But my pause is this, Jesus is gentle and humble in heart. Who doesn't love a teacher like that? He isn't just about passing along information, He is about being who He is. I will find rest for my soul in Him, His presence. So, learn from Him. He is the gentle teacher, a Rabbi with teaching that leads to rest. He is a very present help in times of trouble. He is closer than the air we breathe.
I wonder, have you experienced how close He really is? How real He really is? I will put this challenge out there, fully enter into the yoke of Jesus. Give Him that spot, nearer than others, shoulder to shoulder, sharing the same air. You will be surprised by Him, I am...and I've been at this following Jesus life thing for a very long time. Even still, I'm amazed.
I mentioned that I didn't like the picture in my last post. The animals just look so...stuck. Here is another sampling of yoke pictures... In the first one below I'd say...they look absolutely miserable! Right? A yoke of working, muzzled, dragging a plow.
In this one...they are looking at each other like, how did this happen? Whyyyyy? Or maybe, we can do this...if you want to put a more positive spin on the situation. But no...look at their faces. Not happy....
I love this guy. He is just simply...no. I can't. And look at that yoke...it is so SO restrictive. It is like prison really.
The yoke of Jesus is not like these. It is a yoke of presence, His presence. It is a yoke of surrender. It is a yoke of following the teachings He brought to this earth. It is a yoke of following HIM. And so, do we willingly put on this yoke that joins us to Jesus? He says His load is easy and His burden is light. What is my posture in response to Him?
As I've spent time in this passage this past week, I have appreciated the simplicity of the truth. Jesus is very near. He is intimately involved in every step I take, every day. I'm finding as I turn to Him and catch His eye in the midst of my day, my heart is lifted, the struggle diminishes, and I have rest, yes, even all the way down in my soul. I want to say, I dare you to try it. Try Him. Try His yoke. See if you don't find a gentle, humble companion who is able to lift the burdens of life off your shoulders and onto His own. His yoke is easy and His burden is light.