Take my yoke upon you . . . and you will find rest for your souls (Matt. 11:28-29)
Jesus told us that his yoke was easy and his burden light.
Perhaps at some point in your life you believed him. You looked to his grace. You took his yoke upon you just as he said to do. But having taken his yoke you find you’re still plowing your own row. You feel the tension when Jesus moves in a direction you’d rather not go, when he plods along at a pace that feels far too slow.
You’ve taken his yoke, but it hasn’t been easy.
When we were children summer was naturally a time for play. Then we grew up and the play became far less natural. Adults have a way of turning their play into work. Our summer pace is often as relentless as it is at any other time of year. To rest takes effort; we have to re-learn what we once knew instinctively.
In our spiritual life we are frequently dismayed when we discover that the rest to which Jesus calls us has to be learned. We are not naturally inclined to move with him as we walk in his power. Taking the yoke is followed by learning the way; rest is found in both the taking and the learning.
In Matthew 11:28-29 Jesus possibly borrowed language from rabbinic and wisdom sayings in Judaism. He knew about the “yoke of wisdom” and the “yoke of the law.” His words bear some similarity to these words of Jeremiah.
This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls (Jeremiah 6:16).
Jeremiah seems to be telling us that the paths that lead to rest are not obvious. These ancient paths need to be sought out. We have to ask about where they are and how to find them. In other words, we have to learn to walk in this good and ancient way. The learning leads to the walking and the walking leads us to rest for the soul.
When it comes to the Jesus way, we are always learners. Jesus uses the raw material of your life to teach you the ancient paths and led you to rest. That includes every detail of this day that has yet to unfold.
Enter the day with an eagerness to learn. Be patient with yourself. Risk making a mistake, and lean hard on God’s mercy and grace. Don’t dismiss anything you have planned or anything that comes up today that didn’t fit into your plans. God is using it all to form the likeness of Jesus in you.
Do just what Jeremiah said: ask for the ancient and good paths that lead to rest. And do just what Jesus said: learn from him. In the asking and learning you will find rest for your soul.
Lord Jesus, my prayer today is a quest for the ancient paths. I’m asking you to show me the way that is right and good. By the presence of your Holy Spirit, be my teacher today. Help me to learn your ways as I take your yoke and walk with you. Lead me to the rest you so freely offer. Amen