So, I have said a few times that God has been teaching me about rest recently. Today I was really struck by this passage in Mathew 11:
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 was spending some time just thinking about it this morning. It was like I could almost picture Jesus saying it. Earlier in the passage it says he was visiting the towns in Galilee and I just imagined him in a rural town surrounded by all that entails, maybe there are farm animals, people heading out to the fields and so on. In my imaginings he looks out to a nearby cow, with a yoke on (maybe on its way to the fields with its owner) and says . MY yoke is easy (perhaps almost jokingly, not like the cows..), MY burden (looking at the load on the cow) is light...
This passage is quoted so much, and sometimes it really doesn't seem like being a Christian is a particularly easy or light load. Sometimes the yoke seems pretty difficult, not easy at all. When I first got ill, it was within 2 weeks of praying the sinners prayer and giving my life to Jesus. Was that a coincidence? perhaps, but I have always had this thought that the devil would have been pretty pissed after that, so maybe he threw his worst at me. I don't know, perhaps that is refusing to recognise where I was in my life. Throughout the last 2 years I have found it pretty burdensome being ill. I guess to a certain extent I think I have blamed God; not for being ill, but for not healing me certainly. I have fought the illness all the way, refusing to give in to it. It has not been an easy yoke to wear that's for sure. But either way I know that God has been using this illness to teach me about Him and about resting in Him. And, that his burden IS light and his yoke IS easy.
And when I imagine this passage I imagine Jesus stressing the 'my' parts. Almost emphasising that burdens and yokes that are not easy and light are not of him. That if we are finding things a heavy burden, maybe we need to look at that burden - is it really of God? Are we carrying it the way he intended? if it were packed better or loaded in a different way, would it be easier? would it be as he intended? Or maybe we just need to let him lighten the load... I think my yoke has not been easy because I have been fighting it. Psalm 32 says this:
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
9 Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you.
Well I have most definitely been that mule, needing a bit and bridle... ;) so no wonder the yoke has not been easy! I think what I realise now is that the load is not of him, the illness is not something God gave me, but perhaps the yoke is, perhaps if I just allow the yoke to gently guide me, then I will find the burden easier to carry, perhaps it will even get lighter. So that's where I am now. Ready to be guided, ready to listen, ready to accept that whatever it is I am trying to get to right now, is probably not where God wants me. And I don't think that decision has come soon enough!!