I’ve been thinking a lot about yokes this week.
No, not jokes (although I love nothing better than a good one!) … yokes.
So why, you’re wondering, is Deb obsessing over such a seemingly random, offbeat thing? Well, it’s because I ran across a handful of obscure Old Testament verses that made me curious about yokes (which I’ll get to in a minute.)
If you’re not exactly sure what they are, a yoke is a wooden crosspiece that’s fastened over the necks of two work animals (usually horses, oxen, or mules, sometimes even goats) and attached to the plow or cart they’re pulling. The idea is that it’s much easier for two to pull a heavy load than one alone. In fact, the word “yoke” comes from an ancient Greek root word that means “unite.”
I imagine we’re all acquainted with the beloved New Testament passage about yokes when Jesus himself invites us to, “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 our souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV).
Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve always found this invitation a bit confusing. To my (admittedly limited) knowledge, yokes are not something worn to rest. Beasts of burden wear them in preparation for more work, and hard, grueling work at that. If you’re already weary and burdened, why in the world would you want to plunk a big clunky wooden thing the size of a kitchen table on your shoulders? How could it possibly produce rest for your soul when you’re struggling to support this monstrous additional weight oppressing your body, mind, and spirit? (Not unlike the squashed, heavy weariness many of us have experienced during the past two pandemic years, right?)
Then I came across the story in 1 Kings 12: 1-15 (which was repeated in 2 Chronicles 10: 10-14) where King David’s full-of-himself grandson, Rehoboam, is crowned king and is asked by his subjects to lighten the “heavy yoke” of harsh labor his father (Solomon) had inflicted on them. (In case you’re wondering, the rotten jerk refused and made their burden even heavier because they dared ask for mercy; but that’s not the point of this yoke pondering.)
Okay. So not all yokes are the same? Can a heavy yoke actually be lightened to the point of being helpful instead of pernicious?
A little research revealed that yokes are indeed quite different from one another, depending upon what is hoped to be accomplished with one. They can and often are intentionally made to be lighter when a faithful, hard-toiling team has earned some rest. The yoke is not completely removed, for there’s more work to be done together later, but in order to rest, the yoke is “made easy” and the two rest comfortably in each other’s company, finding the shared burden light and easily manageable.
I love this analogy.
Probably because during the past couple of difficult years, there have been many times when I’ve felt like I’m struggling to pull that ridiculously heavy load all by myself. I more than not get stuck in a rut. The burden is just too oppressive and my wagon wheels keep falling off.
But when I stop long enough to allow myself to be yoked with source of all strength, Jesus, He carries the lion’s share of the burden, leads me in the right direction, and knows all the best places to rest my soul and body. Really rest. As in leave that place infused with His presence refueled, refreshed, and renewed by his infectious gentleness and humility.
I’ve just experienced a little yoked renewal and I highly recommend it for you, dearest BFF, if you’re limping along all by yourself with a broken wheel. Try it. His yoke is truly easy and His burden is light.
How may I pray for you, my friend? That’s one of the perks of our community of BFFs, you know – we’re equally yoked and can share each others burdens.
P.S. Keep your eyes peeled (yuck!) for a new BFF Club Newsletter and terrific Holy Day Giveaway coming out within the next week. If you’re not a member of my inner circle of girlfriends, you can join the BFF Club right here at my website, DeboraCoty.com. Hugs!!!
Julie Blackmore says
I want to be(more than anything/anyone) in God’s divine will for the life He ordained for me to live for Him….how may I pray for you?
Naomi Risley says
Merry Christmas to you and your family.
Praying that 2022 will be a healthier, less stress, happier New Year for us all.
Blessings to you,
thank you that’s just what I needed, I am facing surgery this week and now I feel as if I’m not going it alone.