Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, 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.
—from Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
I don’t know about you, but last week I officially hit the I’m-just-grumpy-because-it’s-hot stage of our recent weather. I love being outside but have no desire to be outside. I’m trying to be a good conserver of energy, so my A/C is set higher than I prefer, and I’m just not feeling generous about it. Chalupa, my dog, has perfected his sploot on the tile floor to maximize the amount of his body that can be cooled at one time. Nothing is wrong; there has been rest available, and yet I feel weary.
When I hear this passage from the gospel, I usually imagine truly difficult times—periods of my life when I was overwhelmed and needed significant relief. It is not a heavy burden to be mildly grumpy and slightly dehydrated. So perhaps because my condition is milder, I heard this passage differently this time. I noticed the yoke. Of course, to be yoked is literally to be attached to something that helps you carry a load together. It implies partnership and sharing that let daily tasks be accomplished more easily.
When I am yoked to Christ, I think I am probably grounded in a different way than I am otherwise. My rule of life has been my primary yoke for over 25 years. I rarely accomplish all seven components of it. But as a wise person told me years ago, it is a structure and a trellis to orient my life upon, rather than a task list. Lately I’ve spent more time reflecting on simplicity. Other seasons have invited me to spend more time in silence or noticing God in the ordinary.
We often fall into the trap of imagining that the most contented we will be is when we accomplish things on our own. We don’t really enjoy the idea of being yoked to anyone or anything. But Christ often shows up in community. And to be attached to something outside of ourselves is actually quite important. It might not help with the heat, but it might make me think of prisoners here in Texas who have no air conditioning at all. It might cause me to be more grateful for what I do have. We are invited, through yoking ourselves to Christ, to be more closely yoked with our neighbor.
I suspect we are all yoked to something. The real question is: What do we choose? And does it lead to abundant life?