No, I’m not talking eggs, here…and that, folks, is spelled y-o-l-k.
It’s Thanksgiving week, and I have more to be thankful for than I could ever enumerate. God is ever faithful, the truest Friend, and lovingly patient…If I have Him, what else do I need?? But as I reflected on all He has done and been for me through the years, my mind immediately turned down an unexpected lane, a personal revelation from a few months ago.
All of my life, especially growing up, if I heard it once, I heard it a thousand times: “wow, you’re only [age]??? I thought you were much older!!” More than once, I had peers mistake me for a teacher or other authority figure. I guess I was what you might call “mature for my age” (or thus I was perceived). Due to this maturity, I was given responsibilities at a young age. I didn’t want to let people down, I wanted them to think well of me, and so I bore my responsibilities, duties and positions steadfastly. At least on the outside. And for a while, there was a certain euphoria about being so young and having people trust me to be a leader. But as time wore on, I wore down; the responsibilities became heavy, burdensome. And yet, more were added to the load. I could look around at others my age and how carefree and light they seemed; and here I was, bound by my responsibilities to act in a certain manner, to refrain from certain things.
Of course, I see it now, in reflection. The problem was that I was carrying the load all alone, not at all the way the Lord intended for me to operate. He had given me gifts and many opportunities to use them…but it was if I said, “Thanks, Lord…but I’ll take it from here.” And so I piled the growing responsibilities as stones in the pack on my back, and hunched over, I continued to carry my load alone. Yes, there were moments of lightness and rightness, release and renewal, but eventually I would shoulder the backpack again and trudge on.
In time, the heavy became the hated. The burdens were now not only cumbersome but despised. But I simply couldn’t take off the backpack. I couldn’t just unload the stones. How many times did I want to fling the responsibilities that others called “opportunities” into the very depths of the deepest ocean? How many times did I want to scream in frustration and just drop the backpack and run, run, run!? Run away from it all??
Why didn’t I just forsake responsibilities, you may ask. If it was so bad, why not let someone else take over? Ah, yes, here’s where I begin to realize that the grace of God is many different colors, shapes, flavors and scents… It’s not always what we think it is. I never could take the leap to shirk my duties. You see, any time that I had one foot on the ledge, I would look back over my shoulder…and see you. At the depths of my despair, ready to take the plunge, your face would come into my mind, and I would think, “what will happen to them, if I give up? Where will they be if I let go, if I run from my responsibilities?” Any time I felt like quitting, sometimes the only thing that held me back was the thought of how my actions would affect other people, especially those that I led and had influence with. And that, folks, is God’s grace uniquely flavored for my needs.
yoke noun \ˈyōk\
: a bar or frame that is attached to the heads or necks of two work animals (such as oxen) so that they can pull a plow or heavy load (www.merriam-webster.com)
So it is the yoke of responsibility, you see, that has kept me safe, sane and saved. God knew I would at times need something strong and heavy to keep my head pointed in the right direction. And…I’m learning. I’m learning to lean on Him. Though I know the fallacy of trying to do things all alone, I still find myself trying to be the mythical Atlas and hold up the world! But I have found that that heavy pack of stones on my back transforms into a pair of wings the moment that I allow the Lord to help me carry my responsibilities. It’s only then that I again experience the exhilaration of flying for, my friend, it’s then that I’m not carrying my responsibilities, but they are carrying me. Oh yes, I’m thankful this Thanksgiving week for the yoke.
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”(Matt 11:28-30, NIV)
[This post was originally published on November 24, 2014.]