“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.”
–Matthew 11:29 & 30
As a child I remember listening to our minister preaching about the weight of burdens and taking up the yoke of Christ. I wasn’t sure what the definition was but I wondered what the deal was about a yoke. I liked mine scrambled. Odd that the minister would preach on eggs. However, it didn’t take long for me to figure out, I didn’t want one of these “yokes or burdens,” especially if additional weight was involved. When it seemed as though everyone around me was suffering hardships, I found myself happy and carefree. If I saw something coming my way that looked like it might be heavy, I avoided it like the plague.
I spent a great deal of time learning to how not to become weighted down with despair and frustration. And then, just when I thought I had it figured out, I was slapped in the face with a good dose of burdens. A failed marriage, two babies and no money quickly taught me what it meant to be burdened. My heart was heavy and depression settled in around me.
I remember crawling into bed in the wee hours of the morning and sobbing, in fact, wailing might be a good word. As I cried that still small voice of God spoke to my heart. “Do you insist on carrying this alone? Take responsibility for what part of this is yours and then turn the rest over to me. My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
That evening, I learned what it meant to carry a burden and better yet, I learned how to give one up. The seconds turned to minutes and the minutes to hours as I lay there, struggling with the agony. Never had I felt such deep loss, such deep suffering. I looked like a train wreck –swollen eyes, red face, runny nose, but I finally came to terms with what I knew to be my own part in the unhappiness. Falling to my knees, I lifted my hands into the air and told God the part I’d played in is ordeal. “Will you forgive me? Can you forgive me?” And literally, no sooner had the words left my mouth than I felt the thousand pound weight disappear. I could catch my breath again, stand without feeling like I was going to topple over. God had lifted my burdens.
I’ve often wondered why, as humans, we insist on learning the hard way? Why is submission so difficult? What Jesus offers us is such a simple concept. His way is really not hard it’s our own stubbornness and pride that makes picking up the yoke of Christ difficult. The circumstances which surround us cause us to cling to the sadness of our lives. It’s as though this unhappiness is the only thing we feel we can gasp hold – probably because it’s so close at hand. Our own desires to continually remain tight-fisted and white-knuckled hanging on to the hardships are the very things that prevent us from the rest that lies within the Father.
It’s not difficult to take up the yoke of Christ, it’s hard to let go of our worldly selfishness and learn to trust – to stand naked and vulnerable before the one who knows us better than we know ourselves. His yoke is easy and His burden is light and when we embrace Him there is rest.
So, I learned over the years that the yolk the preacher was talking about was not yellow and encased in a shell, but rather it was me who could crack and break as the slightest touch of pressure. I have my moments when self-pity sweeps across me and I drop His yolk, but then suddenly I figure out I don’t have to walk on egg shells. What I have in Christ will never crack.