I would like to share perhaps a familiar verse, but one that I love that I want to encourage us all with!
Come to me, all 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
Basically, a yoke is a piece of wood that is used to hold two animals together in order to plow fields for a new season of crop planting. Jesus’ audience would have recognized and completely understood exactly what a yoke is and what a yoke does. They would know that a yoke is not a light and easy thing to bear. It bears weight...a lot of weight! They also would know that stronger oxen were matched with weaker or younger oxen in order to help it become stronger without overwhelming it. The stronger ox bears most of the weight, yet the two oxen are in step together sharing the load, doing the work together.
A similar analogy would be picturing a father moving heavy boxes and an eager little child wanting to help. The child puts his hands on the edge of the box. The father allows a certain amount of weight to be shifted to the child but not more than he can handle. The father is clearly carrying the brunt of the burden. Yet the father invites the child to walk by his side, learning how to lift with his knees, helping him grow in confidence, feeling some of the weight, yet feeling safe and secure, knowing his papa is right there with him.
Is this not also a picture of what we are pleased to do for the families we serve? For several days we hoist backpacks on our backs, push wheelchairs, carry kids on our backs, love on kids, empower parents to leave a legacy… We lighten their load, if only for a weekend, and we see the miraculous fruit of our labor. Lives are changed, families unite, lasting friendships begin that build bridges of support through the hardest moments of their lives and beyond. It is truly a labor of love. And each one of us, as we walk with these families, are reflecting what Jesus has done and desires to do for them. And what He also desires to do for us.
Another translation says it this way: Come to me, all 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.
Somebody today may need to hear Jesus saying that to... you. Because you are bearing the weight of your own burdens. And they are proving to be unbearably heavy. You may be tempted to dismiss them because “nothing can possibly compare with the burdens that IoH families are experiencing,” but the reality is your soul is desperately weary. You’ve put that aside to serve others... but the reality is you are so tired of being afraid or worried or bitter or sad or stagnant or addicted or disappointed or needing approval, needing to please people, or not knowing how to take a break… the list goes on. You’re heavy laboring, you’re heavy laden, you’re weary, and you’re burdened. Jesus says COME TO ME... and I will give you rest.
It’s not the kind of rest that would involve Jesus taking our burdens away as we sit watching on the sideline unengaged. No, he invites us to press into him, to walk in step with him, to be yoked with him as he takes the brunt of the burden and teaches us to engage life in his perfect rhythms of both work and rest.
We all remember and know the burden that Jesus ultimately bore was taking on himself the sin of the entire world. Whoa! Who could possibly do that? Even for Jesus, the reality of bearing this burden grieved his soul to the point of death. It was an impossible burden and yet he laid down his life for it. He died an excruciating death. And because Jesus is the Almighty, Victorious, King of the Universe he rose again, and guess what happened to that burden? IT. IS. FINISHED. His sacrifice and resurrection ensured that our greatest burden is forever obliterated. Our eternity is secure in Him!
As we yoke ourselves with Christ, walking through the hardships and weightiness of life, we are connected with the One who is the ultimate burden bearer and burden lifter. We are reminded that the burdens we bear, while they are not to be dismissed as “no big deal” (they truly matter to Him!), He longs for us to trade for his ‘light and easy’ burden. One that puts pep in our step as we continue to do the good work that God prepared in advance for us and that points us to our greatest hope of entering into his REST for eternity.
The kindergarten teacher in me loves a good hands on reminder... so a year ago we made foil hearts reminding us that we are a reflection of the heart of God. This year I want you to take home a feather. Put it in your backpack today, but then when you get home put it somewhere you’ll see it and be reminded that God doesn’t want you to bear heavy things without Him. He bids you come, trust Him, learn from Him, and trade your burdens for true connection to Him, working and resting at his side, so your soul can be as light as a feather.
Sam Zabel is a Legacy Retreat® Coordinator with Inheritance of Hope. She originally shared this devotional with the February 2020 Orlando Legacy Retreat® team.