Swapping Hard Yokes for Easy and Heavy Burdens for Light

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“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).

Living life is tough, and it has been since God said to Adam after the Fall,“Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground” (Genesis 3:17-19).

The “Christian life,” the life of faith, did not begin for me, automatically, when I became a Christian. When Paul says “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord (by faith), so walk in Him” (by faith – Colossians 2 :6) he means that continuing to live by faith after exercising it initially is not a done deal.

“Walking by faith” will not occur until I realize what is truly a life-changing truth. Many times the hard, uncomfortable yoke I wear to pull the sometimes seemingly impossibly heavy load of life, I have earned myself by following Adam in his rebellion against God and complicity with Satan in the Garden of Eden. No, I am not a victim.  

Animosity, broken relationship, failed opportunity and personal rejection are not “somebody else’s fault.” In every conflict there is plenty of sin to go around. There are no white-horse riders, no white-hat wearers. Sin abounds on every hand, but my own is all I can do anything about. As long as my concern is someone else’s sin, I will not enter into the Christian life of faith we have discussed over the past few blog postings. The yoke labeled “innocent victim” will not pull life’s burden’s. They become immovable, and my unrest and frustration grows.

Burdens are lightened only when I see that Jesus’ yoke will only fit on the neck of a real-life, down-and-dirty sinner in the actual relationships where I find myself. Only then I am ready to begin the most exciting, fulfilling journey imaginable, the life of faith. Following is a vision of God’s signposts along the path, His assurance that, yes, you are on the right road, the one that is leading you to “the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10).

I believe there are three “signposts” along the way, or “fingerprints” God leaves on us that are clues that we are entering into the life of faith and taking His yoke upon us. This week and next we will look at three of them.

Clue #1–I am facing a difficulty, crisis or pressure situation. When times are good and life is going smoothly, I fall into my default mode—living by making “good” decisions and then admiring how well I am doing. I am living by the law and seeing myself as doing so quite successfully.

However, when a crisis comes, and my decisions aren’t working out so well, and my personal resources are proving to be entirely inadequate to get past the situation effectively, this is the first clue that God has shown up on the scene.

He Himself is actually behind what I myself see as trouble. He is actually bringing me to the end of my rope where I will have nothing left to do but let go of the rope and fall into His arms and trust Him with my life.

The crisis situation can be marriage difficulties, children who are not turning out as I had anticipated, financial worries, employment pressures, addictions, moral issues, health problems, relational difficulties of all stripes, etc. God is infinitely creative in applying a unique, designer calamity that is perfect for me. It can be a surprise, out-of-the-blue crisis, or one that occurs in the natural flow of life.

When the crisis comes, whatever type, I can “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:13), because He is there and busily at work making my historical death on the cross in Jesus experiential in my life. Death always precedes life in an experience with God. This crisis only means Jesus’ easy yoke is in place and the burden is now so light I don’t even feel it. Right?

Who are you kidding?! That is exactly what I thought when I wrote the first half of this posting several days ago. I was living by faith; just look at my victory, my love, joy, and peace.

However, as I write this it is 3:00 A.M., and I literally can’t sleep because of a crisis situation that has arisen in my substitute teaching job in the last 24 hours. I have been called in to meet today with the Human Resources Director in the school district for the second time in three years! Any singling out of a sub cannot be a good thing. What rebellious kid has complained to his parents that I made him obey me, maybe even “touching” him, who then contacted the school about a mean, harsh substitute teacher who made his child feel “unsafe?” Subs have no advocate and no defense if they are the lone adult in the room. I need the job!

So, I had an opportunity to face the very situation which is the topic of this posting I am currently writing….at the exact time I am writing it, and I just failed miserably! Am I “rejoicing in the Lord,” as I was just a couple of days ago, not knowing then I was about to face that very test and fail? Is the mind-whirring insomnia and a knot of fear in my stomach an indication of the peace that comes from trusting Daddy?

As a teacher, I always knew where the kids were in their academic progress, and I could predict very accurately their test scores before I saw them; they’re the ones who needed to have their eyes opened. God knew all along where I was in my journey of faith; I didn’t. He has used a crisis to open my eyes to my sin; “Oh, Lord, open the eyes of my heart that I may see . . . “ That prayer is a signpost leading to the life of faith.

Next week we will look at two more clues that, when present, indicate we are taking on, for good or ill, Jesus’ yoke, along with the result of today’s crisis.

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