Joined to, Free in

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

Our children’s bulletin this week has a puzzle with the following statement and question:

Sometimes you feel tired. Sometimes you feel as if people expect too much of you. When you feel like this, Jesus has some special words for you. What are Jesus’ words? _ _ _ _ to _ _, all you who _ _ _ _ _ and are _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _, and I will _ _ _ _ you _ _ _ _.

Can we find rest in Jesus when we labor and are burdened, when life itself seems to be throwing bad things at us? Jesus says so (and of course He’s God), but it seems very hard to find this rest. St. Augustine makes an interesting statement:

And they consider that they who have fearlessly bowed their necks to this yoke, and have with much submission taken this burden upon their shoulders, are tossed about and exercised by so great difficulties in the world, that they seem not to be called from labor to rest, but from rest to labor.

If seems like Augustine is being sarcastic. People take on Jesus’ yoke, yet they get more work, labor, troubles, and are more tired. He went on to give proofs that those who have faith in Christ are not exempted from life’s trials, but overcome them. They overcome them mightily.

One problem is that we think that Jesus’ rest somehow equates to an easy life, to having no worries, to prosperity without cost. Have faith in Jesus and you will win the lottery! Hurray, give me more Jesus! Jesus’ statement is conditional. We have to take His yoke. A yoke is a binding device. It hooks two animals together for the purpose of doing – WORK.

Anyone who has taken Jesus’ yoke, and who is bound to Him no matter what, finds out that God is always asking them to do hard and even practically impossible things.

Jesus’ yoke, being bound to Him and living completely in step with him, means we will not be safe, respected, comfortable, and always prosperous. Jesus’ path is often reckless and risky. Being bond to Him means we give up being bound to other (often easy) things to follow where He leads.

We are called to do what God asks regardless of the cost and trust that God will cover us. The problem is that there is a cost to being bound to Jesus. It may be suffering, not enough money, inconvenience, danger, and even being unwelcome. God may not seem to be covering us. He is! For this is His revelation to us, His “little ones.” Trust that He is in charge, has a purpose, aids us in battle, and gives us victory.