Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Easy Yokes and Light Burdens

It's another one of those days where the best laid plans of mice and men don't seem the best after all. And thus, it's another one of those days where I need to learn to trust. Not to panic, but to trust. Sometimes it seems that there is a fine line between trusting God and doing my part. We talk about waiting on God, but sometimes what we are really doing is just waiting when we should be putting our faith into action while we wait.

Well, that point aside, as I've been learning about trust over the last few weeks, these verses from Matthew 11:28-30 came to my mind. The verses say:

28 “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.”

I remember thinking to myself before, "What is Jesus talking about here? How can He call His yoke easy and His burden light? His yoke took Him to the cross. Where's the lightness in that? And yet, I have quoted this verse often enough with the understanding that when we are weary, stressed, down-trodden, frustrated, incapable, over-worked, etc, etc, that we can bring all of that to Jesus, and He will help us through, and yet the idea of His yoke being easy and His burden light didn't totally click for me.

And then I began to see it in a new light -- in light of His trust in God. I believe that what Jesus was trying to say was that His yoke was easy and His burden light because He trusted completely in the Father. Even though unimaginable suffering stood before Him -- in the form of betrayal, rejection and physical pain -- His faith in the Father remained unshakable. He could face each day in peace and rest because He had turned everything over to God. He wasn't holding onto any part of His life. No longer trying to do things His way. Just walking in faithful obedience -- and trusting God for the rest, come what may.

I am most often weary and burdened when I try to do things in my own strength. When Jesus puts His yoke upon me, it's as if He's saying, "Trust in the Father as much as I do, and together we will pull this load."

But in our way of doing things, we tend to yoke ourselves to the world instead of to Christ. We turn to the things of this world to give us peace and rest, and instead of helping us, they end up pulling us in the opposition direction, making us more weary and heavy-laden.

It is humility that allows us to trust in God, and Jesus was the ultimate example of humility. As long as we remain of the mind that we can do it all on our own, we will never have the rest for our souls that Jesus speaks of. Jesus also describes himself as gentle. Some translations say "meek." When I looked up the definition for meek in the dictionary, I found this.

Meek = Quiet, gentle, and easily imposed on; submissive.

A quiet spirit is one that is capable of listening to another. Submission has garnered a negative connotation in many people's books, but there is a difference between forced submission and submission that is freely given. And when we serve others with an attitude of submission, we will discover that it can be one of the greatest sources of joy in this life. Christ had submitted himself to God the Father. He understood that this was the only way to have rest and peace.

Trusting in God is the only path to finding rest for our souls. In the midst of all of his difficulties, Jesus had peace because He knew He trusted everything to the Father. He had put aside worry and doubt and a path based on our own efforts and was trying to point us to a much simpler path of trust.

What if every time something happened that rocked our world or pulled the chair out from under us or just really bugged us or that made us say, "This is not how I planned it," . . . what if at that moment we just whispered, "I trust you God. I trust YOU."

And what if we really did trust Him? Maybe then we could understand what He meant by finding rest for our souls. Maybe then we could have peace.

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