Saturday, August 30, 2014

Walking with Jesus - an easy yoke

It's been building for a while now. My pans (both baking pans and skillets) have been getting older, chipping and peeling, getting crudded up with baked-on grime, bugging me more and more, and today ... well, the dam broke. I bought a whole bunch of different types of non-stick pans and threw a whole bunch out. (That felt really, REALLY good, by the way. I'll explain below.)

Among the pans I replaced were a few cookie sheets. I'm sort of particular about cookie sheets. Back about four years ago, I bought some, took them home and tried to use them. However, when I placed them side by side in the oven, the door didn't close because the handles on the ends were rounded to allow for a better grip, something to hold onto. While this was an interesting idea, it didn't work for my oven!! I had to use one sheet at a time and put the sheet in sideways.

The problem with this is that sometimes I need to use two sheets at the same time. Otherwise, whatever it is I'm cooking takes twice as long. At least. (Example: cookies ... although I use the sheets for much more than that. Like home-made pizza.) Using two at the same time makes it easier for the sheets to fit back into the oven when I have to turn something over (like, for example, oven fries or pork chops.) So I came to see these old cookie sheets that wouldn't fit beside each other as nothing more than a nuisance.

And rather than get rid of these sheets four years ago, I (in deference to my Scottish husband's roots) decided to use them. They were good quality, after all. They were sturdy. But they just didn't fit my needs. 

Well, they've been getting old. And I realized this past week that the non-stick coating on them was scratched and starting to peel. 

So I went for it. 

The funniest things will speak to me spiritually; God gave me my sense of humour and he uses it to speak to me at the oddest times. Because when I said to myself that I could finally put two sheets side by side again, and how it would feel good to just slide that second cookie sheet right into the space it was intended for, my first thought was what Jesus said about His yoke being easy and His burden light. 

Now yokes mean hard work. Picture a yoke and more than likely, you picture a team of oxen or horses pulling this great weight, perhaps a wagon full of people on a hay ride ... or just a load of lumber. 

And burdens mean ... well, they mean burdens!! 
What was Jesus talking about??!? 

Photo "Autumn Avenue" courtesy
of Dundee Photographics at
When a young ox is in training to work in harness or as part of a team, he is yoked to an older, more experienced ox. But they don't put a weight behind them, just the yoke over their shoulders and the reins running over their backs so that the driver can direct them. The yoke in this sense is not to pull a load, but to teach the younger ox how to walk, how to work together, how to take a turn (left, right), how to take direction from the master, and how to stop. And when a young ox followed the older one's lead, the work was easy. There wasn't a fuss in the traces, no fighting each other. The older ox did pretty much everything and the younger one was along for the ride. Without realizing it, the younger ox was learning to listen.

That was the sense in which Jesus said to take His yoke. Walk with Him, He's been there and done it all ... He even gives the power to walk!! He's accomplished the whole thing; there is nothing left to "do," and if we try in the way we see fit, we'll just make the job harder for ourselves. He has finished it all! Trying to do things on our own takes twice as long (remember the cookies?), is way more than twice as frustrating, and - truth be told - never turns out quite as well even if you DO manage to pull it off ... ONCE. 

Compare that to the absolute joy of reveling in His love, bathing in grace, being enthralled with Jesus and His finished work! Even the things we were taught we were "supposed to" walk in (for example, Ephesians 2:10 - "You are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works...") aren't to be done by striving for anything ("lest anyone should boast.") Check out next few words in verse 10 ... "... [good works] which God has prepared in advance for us ...." What? Just gaze on Jesus and He'll take us where we need to go, give us the power to do whatever He whispers to us, and delights in us no matter what? 


I'm not kidding. It's just that simple. 

I am learning (most of the time the hard way) that it doesn't have to be more complicated than letting our hearts be completely and hopelessly in love with Him. that's it; that's all. No jive.

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