Picture this: A wooden yoke is fastened over your neck, and that harness is attached to a heavy plow behind you.
Not exactly an appealing proposition. As humans, we don’t like the idea of being restrained or put under something, because — shhh — that sounds too much like submission. And yet, Jesus told us to take His yoke upon us.
“Come to Me, all you 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)
Let me be honest with you. I was praying the other night, and this verse came into my mind. Even as it entered my thoughts, I could feel part of myself resisting the idea. For some reason, I didn’t want to burden God with my issues, because they felt petty and unimportant compared to what other people experience. Or, perhaps, part of me was weary of praying for the same things without noticeable results. So, I quietly rebelled against what God was saying.
Here’s the thing: Rebellion reveals itself in different forms. It isn’t always a blatant disregard for rules. It doesn’t always parade itself as a stereotypical moody teenager or a zealous insurrectionist. Often, rebellion shows itself in our subtle resistance to God’s voice, in our lack of trust that His plan is good. It grows along with bitterness, distrust, doubt and worry. As a result, we’re stuck in a single yoke, lugging the plow behind us all by ourselves.
And we wonder why we don’t make progress in the field.
Jesus wants to carry our burdens. He can handle them. He wants to be yoked with us, paired together so that He can share the weight that would otherwise crush or immobilize us. He is not weak. He doesn’t get tired or breathless. He doesn’t get discouraged.
When we’re yoked with Jesus, we are able to properly move the plow behind us, preparing the field for whatever seed we are purposed to put into it. Without Jesus, we’re stuck in the same rut, going nowhere, discouraged by our lack of progress.
Jesus loved teaching about the principles of sowing the spiritual field (read Matthew 13:1-29), and countless Scriptures speak about reaping what we sow and gathering the harvest (read Gal. 6:7-9). But, before we can plant, and long before we can harvest, we first need to plow up the ground — and that means we need to take His yoke, walk with Him, seek His will and trust Him.
In all likelihood, parts of the plowing process will be jostling and painful. We’ll probably hit rocks and trip on roots, but Jesus will steadily guide us along, easing our burdens. And as we spend more time with Jesus, we learn from Him and know that we can rest in Him. We’re submitted to Him, but not dominated. Instead, we’re moving as a pair, step for step, preparing the field for the harvest.
“Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that He may come and shower righteousness upon you.” (Hosea 10:12 NLT)