July 1, 2011
I’ve been writing a lot lately about resting in Christ and abandoning works of the flesh. About how we aren’t to work to be approved in God’s eyes; just receive His grace and favor. If this is all a new concept to you, as it once was to me, then you may be asking yourself, “So, what is it that I AM supposed to do?”
Without a doubt we are to do something, so how is it we can be certain that what we are doing is truly what we should be doing?
I spent the majority of my life agonizing over decisions and fear of doing the wrong thing. I didn’t want to be out of God’s favor and was concerned that I would make the wrong choice, do the wrong thing and there I would be – out of God’s favor.
I spent so much time battling with this through the years. I now look back on that with such sorrow in regards to the time that was wasted when I could have experienced true freedom and in that freedom, touched lives daily, joyfully.
During these struggles I would read verses such as Matthew 11:30 and wonder how that fit with what I was experiencing; working so hard to be just what I thought Christ wanted me to be.
Matthew 11:28-3028) “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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. 30) For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
His yoke did not feel light to me and I was weary. I knew God’s grace was freely given, but in my altered perception of grace I thought that once I had received that grace, then I was to ‘be good’ or perform to meet a certain Christian standard which I continually seemed to fall short of.
Well, let’s talk about His yoke and the scripture above. Here it appears a contradiction in terms again. Remember previously when I wrote about ‘laboring to rest’ as it says in Hebrews 4:11-16?
The contradiction is between the words ‘yoke’ and ‘find rest’. The word yoke in the dictionary has many meanings, but the two that stood out to me were these two:
1) A frame designed to be carried across a person’s shoulders with equal loads suspended from each end.
2) Something that connects or joins together; a bond or tie.
We have seen pictures of oxen with that heavy wooden yoke across their backs and around their necks. It portrays to us a heavy load and something hard to bear. But we must remember that for a muscled up sturdy ox, the load of the yoke isn’t heavy. It might possibly resemble something like a purse slung over our shoulder or a backpack.
I like #2 – something that connects or joins together; a bond or tie. I consider myself yoked to Him, tied to Him or bonded to Him by my free will.
But let’s talk more about the ox and the wooden yoke we’ve come to picture. I believe that the crowd who were around Jesus in that day understood more completely what He was talking about because they used oxen and knew how to use them to achieve the best results.
This is how it was explained to me. When a farmer would yoke two oxen together they would not take two experienced oxen, but one very experienced, strong and mature ox and one new, younger and weaker.
The purpose of this was that the stronger ox would know the path and be able to pull the weight. The purpose of the younger weaker ox was just to follow along WHEREVER the stronger more experienced ox led.
Basically the younger, weaker ox had no responsibility of choice or decision or power, only the older stronger ox. The weaker one was just to follow.
When I saw this I broke free into another level of freedom. I am JUST to follow. But what if I made a bad decision in my career or home life and pulled to the left? Well, the stronger, more mature ox would pull me back to where I needed to be. In fact, the weaker ox can’t pull the stronger ox at all.
In real life, should the weaker ox pull in another direction the stronger ox would stop until the weaker one would stop pulling in the opposite direction and they would once again begin their journey. In our own lives when we pull in the other direction, Jesus stands there lovingly, patiently waiting for us with no guilt or condemnation.
His love is one that wants to give us our dreams and hearts desires. He is the one who best knows the way to get there and if we will follow His lead, we will. How much time have we wasted pulling against the yoke thinking we knew where we were going and what we were doing while Jesus stood patiently by waiting, ready to resume once we were ready to follow along again!
This is a portrayal of those of us who have chosen to be yoked with Christ Jesus. This is not a picture of those who have chosen otherwise.
If you have made a conscious decision to be yoked with Christ, you do not need to worry about making wrong choices or decisions. That doesn’t mean you won’t, but that when you do, being yoked to Christ will keep you where you need to be.
It is not up to the weaker ox to know the way, just to follow. Follow Christ today and be free.