This week is the first anniversary of the death of my Kenyan friend Emily and her unborn son. It was a senseless and tragic incident that was the result of negligence, corruption, and a broken world. Remembering that, combined with hard news from so many who are close to me lately, along with trudging through my own sludge known as raising teenage girls (the struggle is real), I had a moment of feeling pretty overwhelmed. Everything I’m walking through and praying about with and for others seemed to scroll through my mind as I started to feel the weight of all that I carry.
Then I heard Holy Spirit emphasize, “All that you carry…” I knew it was Him and I knew there was more to it, but I couldn’t process it immediately.
A few minutes later, my husband called me from work to say hi and I told him what I’d heard and how I was feeling. He said,
“Ahhh, my yoke is easy and my burden is light—“ … and then he had to go.
I know he was thinking about the time a few years ago when our friend Maggie was visiting from Norway and sat in on a Bible study at our house. We studied Matthew 11:28-30 and she opened our eyes to a new way of understanding the yoke/burden concept. Maggie is a farmer's wife and she knows that when a young ox is learning to plow, it starts by walking under the yoke next to an older, bigger, more experienced ox. The big ox carries the weight and bears the burden of pulling the plow and the little one doesn’t feel much of the weight or burden while they work and struggle to break through the hard ground behind them.
When we’re learning how to walk in The Way and do the work of the Kingdom, we can walk beside Jesus who carries the weight of the yoke and bears the burden of the plow. And at long last we can find rest for our weary souls.
When it feels like there’s a heaviness on our back and we’re dragging everyone and everything around us through the dirt, we might need to switch yokes… The yoke the world puts us only lets us do the work of the earth— the work of survival. Sharing Jesus’ yoke transforms the earth altogether by bringing heaven down so that we can not just survive, but we can thrive. And at long last we can find rest for our weary souls.
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.”
By sharing the yoke with Jesus, we learn to be humble by following His example. We learn to be strong for others. We learn to work hard. We learn to carry what He intends for us to carry, and nothing else. His yoke is righteousness, peace, love, joy, and hope. His burden is His own to bear. Whatever we must bear in this life is His as well. Allowing Him to bear it instead of dragging it around is a humble choice. It's a choice that acknowledges that He is able and we are not; a choice that submits to the work of the Holy Spirit in and through us.
Once we learn to operate in the Spirit something miraculous begins to happen. As He lifts the yoke of this life from our shoulders, we become mature, experienced, and wise. We become able to walk beside and train a little ox. Once we grow to stand in the yoke as the big ox, teaching a little ox how to walk the ancient paths (Jeremiah 6:16), we’re so unified with Him that it’s still Jesus carrying the load and bearing the burden.
And you know what we get to carry? His presence.
We carry everything that He is into everything we do.
We’re preparing the soil for something good to grow as we carry Heaven and transform every piece of ground we step on.
Let us be true co-laborers with Christ as we watch His Glory manifest in the fruit of all we do!
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