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. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2011:28-30&version=NIV
After being prompted to contemplate these verses (Holy Spirit?) during the writing of a recent blog post (Weighed Down, Bearing Up), it turns out that our pastor preached on them yesterday (Holy Spirit!). His focus was on the rest that we can find in Jesus, rather than on the burden or weight that I was focusing on in the blog. He showed us a photo of an actual yoke and explained that the likely significance of us taking on Jesus’ yoke is that we are the weaker in a pair of pulling oxen, while Jesus is the lead ox. He is already plowing the furrow that needs to be plowed, so to speak, and he invites us to join him in His work, to pull alongside, not find our own furrow or field to work in.
I don’t know about you, but I look for at least part of my significance in my work. But I don’t particularly enjoy picturing myself locked into a yoke, head down, pulling a plow (or cart or millstone), and with small, deliberate steps making progress. Just because I don’t enjoy this picture doesn’t mean it’s not the truth, however. For example, raising children is a slow, step-by-step task, one I’m in the middle of, and, I hope, under Jesus’ child-rearing yoke. I’m also looking for new things I can and/or should do as my children grow older and are more independent of me. I can look around in my own strength to try to find those somethings — hobbies, new skills, even ministries –, or I can yoke myself to Jesus (as our pastor said, through reading the Word, prayer, and other spiritual disciplines) and follow where the furrow leads. And, if I believe Scripture, I will find the longed-for personal significance (rest for my soul, rest in my longings, the setting at rest of my restlessness) then — when I am yoked.
The final part of the yoke imagery that I need to hold on to is this: Jesus pulls most of the load. It’s His field, His harvest. I can rest in His authority as the “lead ox,” and if He is humble, then surely I should be, also.
I think I need some time to absorb all this.
Pastor Dave’s sermon entitled “Rest” from July 1, 2012, can be found at this link: