Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Lowly Yoke

Come unto me, 
all ye that 
labor and are 
heavy laden, 
and I will 
give you rest.
Take my yoke 
upon you, and 
learn of me;
for I am meek 
and lowly in 
heart: and ye 
shall find rest 
unto your souls.
~Matthew 11:28, 29~

There are two types of oxen, either they are meek and mild or they kick against the ox goads (Acts 9:5). You are aware, I am sure, that it takes meek and lowly oxen to get a field plowed. The animals cannot think they are "above that kind of work" and rear up to stomp their master, and neither can they think they are "just not up to it" and refuse to leave the barn.   

Therefore, either the master soothes and assures the animals or he gives them a poke with the ox goad to get them going. Regardless of what it takes, the skilled herdsman eventually leads the oxen out to the field. Please note he does not give the oxen their assignment and then go sip lemonade on the porch. Rather, he gets right in behind the team and takes every step they do. He, too,  bears the heat of the day, the long hours, and the monotony of the chore.

God is like that with His children, only He goes a step farther. He not only guides from behind (Isaiah 30:21), but He also sends His Son to get into the yoke before inviting you to join Him. The Lord says to look unto Him. Notice how humbly He takes the yoke upon His shoulders. By doing so, He teaches you that, if you would do likewise by the power of His Spirit, you would immediately experience a sweet release from the turmoil you experience in your soul by resisting the will of the Master.

However, though you will find rest unto your soul, there is still a burden to be borne.
Though your soul may be at rest, your body and mind must fully be engaged in order for the field to be plowed. There's no getting out of bearing a yoke of some kind in this lifetime. As I heard one minister say, it's not whether or not we will bear the burden, but which burden we will bear.

Some women erroneously think that, if they could just get out of the house and into the workforce, get out of their marriage, get out from under the yoke of parental authority, they would be free from their burden. That is most certainly not the case. Those who have thrown off these yokes have found, to their dismay, that the master of self-sufficiency is a cruel slave driver. It is a foolish woman who leaves the yoke the Lord has placed upon her to bear the yoke of the world alone instead. 

When I was first married and began having my babies, I was like the second ox, rearing and straining to be free. I didn't start out that way, but as the yoke of keeping a home and bearing children was placed upon me, I began to fall under the burden. My strength was small, because I tried to do it in my own ability. I thought that was what I was supposed to do. I didn't realize until very far into the plowing that we wives, mothers, and helping daughters do not have to face it alone. Christ is there beside us every step of the way.

So, be sensitive to the leading of the Master. Be sensitive to the pull of the yoke as Christ pushes on beside you. He uses His Word and the gentle wooing of His Spirit to encourage you to keep plodding onward one step at a time. Also, i
n order to keep the rows straight, He often uses the authority in our lives (such as a father or husband) like the reins of a plow to guide us in the direction we need to go. 

Then, before you know it, you have reached the end of the final row. You have fought a good fight, you have finished the course, and you have kept the faith (II Timothy 4:7). Then, and only then, are you released from the burden of the yoke. 

As you walk through the twilight next to your dear Yoke-fellow, you will see the lights of the barn afar off and know a sweet supper awaits you along with a clean, soft place to rest. The Plowman pats your weary sides as He opens wide the gait and says, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant. . .Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord" (Matthew 25:21).

So plod on, dear one. The day of rest and gladness at the end of life's day makes it worth every weary step.