I’ve always been a worker-bee. Well, perhaps not as a child. As an adult, though, and especially as a Christian, I’ve been a worker-bee. I found great pleasure in life by accomplishing a goal, but there was a driven-ness in this way of living. I’ve discovered that being a worker-bee is especially dangerous, spiritually. I’ve lived for a long time under the yoke of what I call "to-do list" Christianity. What a bondage. Self-effort doesn't work when it comes to doing what only God can do,which is anything of any spiritual value. That's why I love the Lord's invitation to the weary, burdened folk who followed Him:
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30 ESV
As we have seen in the previous blog post, Christ’s invitation in verse 28 is a call to find true rest in Him alone. And this rest is a gift (literally, “I will rest you.”) It’s the rest of spirit that is fixed and permanent, resulting from all that the Person and Work of Christ accomplished for us – total forgiveness, birth into the family of God, union with Christ, and much more. And this rest of spirit is mine when I respond to Jesus' gracious words, “Here to Me” (verse 28.)
But now the question is, how do I experience this rest in my soul every day of my life on this earth? How can rest be mine even in the midst of all the “doing what needs to be done?” How can anapausis, “the inner tranquility of soul while engaged in our necessary labors,” be mine right here, right now? I believe it’s all wrapped up in the image of the yoke.
But now the question is, how do I experience this rest in my soul every day of my life on this earth?
What is a yoke? A yoke is a bar or frame of wood that connects two animals together for a purpose or work of some kind. This was, and is, a common sight in the Middle East. Typically, a stronger animal is yoked to a weaker or more inexperienced one and so takes the lead. The two animals then work together to complete the same job. In addition to this use with animals, a master sometimes used a yoke to bind and control his slaves. Symbolically then, the yoke is a picture of yielding control to a master who is greater in power and authority, as well as being attached to one who is stronger and more skilled to accomplish a purpose together.
Jesus says I am to take on His yoke in order to find rest for my soul. My soul is my inner person – my mind, my emotions, and my will. This is where I often struggle and experience lack of peace and rest, but as I chose living from union with HIM above all other competing attachments, I experience the peace and rest of a loving Lord who lives through me in every situation I face.
However, the fact is there are other yokes pulling at me. These other attachments are often good things that end up becoming addictions, obsessions, dependencies, mini-gods exerting control over my life. Christine Wyrtzen, in her lovely website Daughters of Promise, names a few that women can become attached to, if we are not living by our indwelling Christ, yoked to Him above all else:
the yoke of religion and living by “others’ measuring stick” (like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day)
the yoke of slavery and living by “the demands of controllers”
the yoke of shame and living by “the opinions of flawed people”
the yoke of the flesh and living “like I did before I believed”
the yoke of deception and living by “lies conceived at the gates of darkness.”
One I might add would be the yoke of self-effort and living by my own ingenuity and type-A personality. As I take HIS yoke upon me, though, and as I yield to the loving Lord who lives within me, I experience what Major Ian Thomas calls the faith-rest life: “Christ is in action, and you in your humanity are simply the clothes of His divine activity. This is the rest of faith. It is your hands with which He is at work, your lips with which He is speaking, your eyes with which He sees the need, your ears with which He hears the cry, and your heart with which He loves the lost. (The Indwelling Life of Christ, p 99)
So dear sisters, “take His yoke upon you” today and live from His indwelling life, while you are preparing the next meal, running to that necessary appointment, reading the Scriptures, loving your husband, changing another diaper … You may find that, in whatever unfolds before you each day, you will experience Love beyond your love, Forgiveness beyond your forgiveness, Patience beyond your patience, Skill beyond your skill, Fullness beyond your fullness, Peace beyond your peace, and Rest beyond your rest.
You may also discover that His yoke is easy, His burden is light, because you are united to Him and His yoke fits you perfectly.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28-30 MSG
Jan Loyd is a child of God, a disciple of Christ, a Jersey girl, a former nun, a teacher, and now a wife of 47 years, mother of two, grandmother of 5 boys and finally a baby girl...these are just some of the hats she wears or has worn. Her hat as teacher has seemed to be one she’s worn her entire adult life, ranging from elementary school, homeschool, adult ESOL and GED language and writing. But along with all of these opportunities has been her favorite above all the rest: teaching women the Word of God in various ways, Precept Upon Precept and Bible Studies she’s developed by the grace and tutelage of God along the way. Currently you may find her on her devotional blog “A Branch in the Vine” where she share several times a week and in her Bible Study/ devotional book The With-ness of our God: Relationship in Every Dimension.