Khesed calls sheep "baa-baa." For some reason, I think of baa-baas whenever I hear the words, "Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
I think of the green pasture in Psalm 23. Jesus takes me and lays me by the still waters. I am his little sheep and he is my shepherd. I would then play all day with other sheep, happy and free of my burdens.
Wrong. Wrong animal.
When Jesus calls us to come and rest, he also says, "Take my yoke upon you."
A yoke. As in that thing farmers attach on their oxen. Not exactly the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of rest.
It has been another Elisabeth Elliot week for me. For two days, I have her sermon about meekness on replay on my desktop. She opened my eyes to see my opposite-of-meek ways. Yesterday, as I was folding laundry, the Holy Spirit performed several open-heart surgeries on me. There was no anesthetic for the pain. With utmost precision and care, the Lord cut into my soul and placed his fingers on the sickest, most vile places of my heart.
Right between those piles of laundry, the Lord broke me.
I needed to be broken. And brokenness was a good place to be.
In order to take the yoke of Christ, I must first bend my neck, and bow my head. I must submit my will to his, and go wherever he leads me. But, this yoke—with its weight and constraints on my shoulder—I do not like it. I want to stretch my neck and look around. I want to evaluate all my options and decide for myself, where I want to go, who I want to be. I want to run and be free.
But running wild, I should know by now, is no freedom at all.
Imagine a frail animal in the wild. In the cold, in the rain, in the ditch. Thirsty, starving, hurting. A prey for fiercer beasts. Lost and alone. It could fall off a cliff, or worse, it could be captured for chains and slaughter.
This yoke doesn't seem so bad now, does it? Jesus calls it "easy" because the yoke is his steadfast love. He bound himself to us because of his faithfulness. All I have to do is bend my neck and bow my head, and receive it with a grateful heart.
In his grace and mercy, God bound his fate with ours. To be under his yoke is to be one with Christ — the One who bent his neck and bowed his head under the weight of the cross. To be under his yoke is to belong to God, to be in God's field, to work God's soil, to bear fruit for God's glory. The yoke is heavy and constraining only when I am fighting and pulling away.
Soul, bend your neck,
Soul, bow your head,
Take his yoke upon you,
this is his steadfast love and faithfulness.
His yoke is easy,
and his burden is light.
Learn from him,
for he is gentle and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest, Oh my soul.
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