Lately people have been asking me “Where will you be operating Street Hope?” I tell them that my backpack is my office. I carry my planner, a notebook and pen, my Bible and my Kindle, with my phone in my pocket I’m all set.
I walk around town with this blue backpack slung over my shoulder. I only put it over one shoulder because I feel a bit ‘nerdy’ with it over both shoulders. Sometimes though it chafes when worn this way and I have to break down and put it on properly, the way it was designed. With it like this I can walk and walk with no problems or soreness. The fit of the backpack when properly used makes carrying the load easy.
Jesus invites, or rather commands, us, to take up his yoke in order that we might find ‘rest’. Often we think of taking up his yoke as carrying an additional burden but there is no additional burden. The yoke like my backpack, when properly worn, makes the unbearable become entirely bearable. The yoke does not cause extra hardship but alleviates it.
Matthew 11:28 – 30 says “Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
I was reading a sermon by Henry Drummond “Pax Vobiscum”, where he teaches that the key is found in “learning” from Jesus. It is in our thinking that we will discover this “rest”. This resonates with me because every day I encounter people who are striving to think differently. They were raised in family situations and their life experiences taught them to think in very anti-social ways. Now having come to faith they realise they need to think differently. We talk about distrusting our own thinking and instead seek wisdom from God, in order to lead our new lives.
I can’t help but be struck with the advantage my disadvantaged friends have over those of us from more ‘normal’ backgrounds. My struggling friends know they need a new way of thinking and are working hard at it. Many of us good church people drag our old ways of thinking into our new life with Christ never realising that we too need to distrust our thinking and seek God’s mind.
Jesus says that as we begin to acquire his way of thinking, “gentleness and humility” (see Phil. 2:5 – 11) we will be able to find rest. I know that for me, two of the most unnatural qualities are gentleness and humility. These are foreign characteristics to my fleshly natural self.
As I work hard at this new gentle/humble way of thinking I am less concerned that I be recognised or get my way or impose my will on others. As I work hard at choosing to think like Jesus my burden gets lighter. I do not carry the same concerns in the same way.
This does not mean that life gets easy. Jesus in his earthly walk was constantly in the midst of outward storm and turmoil, culminating at the cross! But inwardly (and this was frustrating for: Caiaphas, Pilate, and Herod) his inward sea was as a sheet of glass.
It may seem oxymoronic that we must work at something to be given rest but that is exactly the case. Working hard at learning to think like Jesus is the guarantee of lighter life.
Life is hard pick up your yoke!