Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Yoke That Brings Freedom

    I often think about the verse in the bible about the yoke.
Mt 11:28-30 – “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 your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
     I am someone who likes to feel like a free spirit all while living comfortably inside of my safe controlled environment. I am a paradox I am a caged bird who wants the door left open just in case. I think I struggle the most with the idea of submission and surrender because I hate the idea of a yoke. It looks so uncomfortable and binding and permanent.
     It was last weekend and I felt God moving in my heart that my problem has never been that first step of laying everything down at his feet but rather the part where he asks me to take his yoke. Is it a lack of trust and past of failure that cautions me that the yoke is not for me or just my wild untamed heart that wants to be free?
     I seem to have a history with wanting to do things for others, but on my own terms. I want to do it my way. When I played the piano as a youth I didn’t understand what I was being taught so I adapted by ignoring the lesson completely and spending hours learning the music by ear. I would come with a shakey unpolished piece of music that I exerted so much of myself to produce only to find my teacher very displeased with the result. What she didn’t know was that after three years of lessons I had not learned to read music. Another example is my desire to cook, I always want to improve on recipes or forgo recipes all together in search of that perfect food that I can take all the credit for. I can’t even begin to tell you of all the failures that my lack of following directions has led to. I just get ahead of myself. I never could just stay the course and follow the lead.
     I always saw the picture of the oxen baring the yoke as a struggle and a chore but then I started to think about what the yoke is. It is merely a tool used for maximum productivity while utilizing all the strengths of the oxen.  God doesn’t place expectations on me that are cumbersome but rather gives us a tool to accomplish what we never knew we could in a much smaller time frame than we ever could have imagined. Another common type of yoke is the kind used for carrying water, a person wears this long apparatus over his or her shoulders to carry buckets of water on both ends, the water is balanced and weighs a fraction of what it would weigh if you just carried it at your sides. Longer trips are possible and fewer of them making the task much more attainable.
     See we have it all wrong, God isn’t trying to tie us down with a burden that we cannot bare, he is giving us a tool to bare the weight of something that we cannot carry alone, something we are trying to do all by ourselves because we mistakenly think that a yoke is a prison and so we continue on not utilizing our strength all while struggling with our weaknesses. So what is this yoke that Christ speaks of? Our Savior took upon him the crucifixion. Is that the yoke? No the yoke is not the struggle, it is the tool that helps you bare the struggle and if Christ was able to bare what he did we need to be asking ourselves why we still refuse to take this yoke upon us.
     What is the yoke? The word yoke is also used in the bible as a caution.
2 Cor 6:14 – Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?Gal 5:1: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.”
We use this verse to warn about unhealthy, ungodly relationships. Is the yoke a someone rather than a something? As Christ returned and spoke to his disciples giving them the great commission he didn’t just leave it at that. He gave them the hope that they should go and wait for the gift he was sending; a helper; the Holy Spirit. I believe that God always gives us the tools when he asks us to do his will. He doesn’t expect us to do it all on our own. He gave us the Holy Spirit, are we utilizing that Connection between man and God? The Holy Spirit is the Yoke that tethers us to Christ, To the Father, to other believers and as we become one in the Spirit we are able to do unspeakably more than we could ever imagine.
We have to let go of our pride that says This is my burden to bare, my soil to till, and I will do it by myself. We want the credit for effort even if it means we get very little accomplished. I know I have pride to lay down and its time I tried accepting the gifts before me and getting amazing things done for the kingdom. First step: admitting that you can not do it alone. Second step: allowing God to fit us and equip us with his Spirit. Third Step: Walk in the fullness of  the Holy Spirit; a yoke that is not heavy to bare.
 I am so thankful that I do not carry the yoke of the law (Acts 15:10 – Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear?). We negate the purpose of Christ baring that yoke for us if we continue to bare the yoke of the Law. We can only wear one yoke.
Galatians 5:1-6
 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.  Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.  You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
So many of us are glad to rid ourselves of the burden of the old yoke of religion and law but are then mistakenly thrust into this idea of being free and baring no yoke at all.
Romans 6:15-18
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance.  You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
 Weather it is the yoke of the law or of man, or that I try to walk without a yoke at all, all those paths come up short to the freedom I receive when I walk with the Yoke that Christ promised. I am so thankful that I can be tethered with the Holy Spirit and do mighty things in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
I pray with all my heart that you; mighty God, would help me to stay this course. I know that as long as I am yoked to you that no rock meant to trip me or weed meant to stop me, or hard earth underneath me could ever stop the plans that you have. I am called to go out and make disciples and I see a field that must be tilled for your beautiful seed, a field that will contain a harvest that only the store houses of heaven can possibly hold. Father I am all yours and I desire for you to fit me every day with this yoke that keeps us connected. I love you so much and I look forward to a future of me following you instead of you chasing after me. I cannot even imagine the amazing things ahead. All of my heart is yours, I surrender to this yoke and I ask that you would change my stubborn heart and give me a soft and receiving spirit to your voice. Amen