This week my daddy would have turned 70 years old. I miss talking to him about life. He thrived on conversations that challenged your thinking. These days he has been on my mind more often. Maybe it is my age, or maybe I wonder what he would say about the election and all that goes with it. My best memories are big, enveloping hugs from my dad and cuddling up beside him to discuss what was going on in my life.
This week as I read Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV), I had to stop and read it again.
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.
What an invitation! Come to me… As I read those words, I pictured Jesus standing there with arms open wide ready to give a big, enveloping hug just like my dad use to do. Everywhere I turn people are weary and burdened. I live in a country where many are weary from the emotional trauma left over from civil war and disease. I read on Facebook of friends who are burdened for refugees and other issues of our day. Others are burdened by family problems and not sure how to navigate what life has brought their way. Many are burdened by what the future holds. To all of these… Jesus says, “Come to Me… I will give you rest.”
We have to take the first step. We have to come. It is only then that Jesus can give us rest. How does He give us rest? The next sentence gives the answer. We are to take his yoke upon us and learn from him. In order for us to take his yoke upon us, we need to take off the yoke that has wearied and burdened us. We need to give him those expectations, hurts, sins, and burdens. When we come to Him, we need to come ready for Him to replace our yoke with His.
Yoke is not a word you hear much. Often it is used in phrases such as the yoke of slavery. According to the dictionary, a yoke is a wooden crosspiece fastened over the neck of two animals and attached to the plow or cart to pull. It is a term that those listening to Jesus’s words would have been familiar with. A yoke also refers to the bonding between two people or parties. It is often a symbol of oppression or something burdensome. Wait… Isn’t this yoke suppose to be a good thing? Doesn’t it lead to rest?
By taking up the yoke that Jesus offers, I give up control of my life and my agenda. I surrender to his will and way and let Him guide me. It is no longer about me but all about HIM. It is not oppressive. It is freedom. A word used by Paul and James that describes this yoke would be bond servant. We are bonded to Christ.
We are not only to take on His yoke but learn from Him for He is gentle and humble of heart. I don’t know about you, but I sure could use some more gentleness and humility in my life and that is just the beginning of the learning process.
Lastly, Jesus’s yoke is easy, and His burden is light. This does mean that life is easy. John Ortberg says, “Easy is a soul word, not a circumstance word. The soul was not made for an easy life. The soul was made for an easy yoke.” The soul was made to navigate life with the guidance of the one who knows all things. The soul is so easily burdened when we try to do things on our own and in our own way. We need the yoke that Jesus offers. Our souls need the rest that He offers. Rest is more a state of mind than a circumstance. It is peace that passes understanding. It is knowing that I am not alone; He is always with me.
So today I am going to COME. I am going to TAKE HIS YOKE UPON ME. I am to LEARN FROM HIM. I don’t know about you, but I need HIS REST. I have no idea what that looks like on a daily level. For now, I know it means acknowledging that I can’t do this life on my own. I have to come in faith and give him those daily burdens. Then I have to trust that his leading-His yoke will guide me as I go through my days. I won’t always get it right but my teacher is gentle and humble in heart. He will not give up on me.
What about you? Are you experiencing His rest? Do you need to come to Him?