Last week I wrote about wearing a properly fitting yoke. Hopefully we have spent some time identifying the wrong yokes we have been bearing and have laid those down. If we have allowed ourselves to be yoked by Jesus then we also need to allow Him to train us.
Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29
We see in the verse above that after we take His yoke, we must let him teach us. He is gentle with us, slow to anger, abounding in love, and patient. He will help us to learn obedience to him and to do the work he created for us.
As we carried the wrong yokes we served a different master. We learned the ways of the wrong master and now we must learn obedience to Jesus. This will take time and training.
Before an ox can be of use, it must learn how to walk alongside another ox while carrying the yoke. Imagine what training this must involve as the ox has grown accustomed to the freedom of moving in any direction of his choosing and now he will be bound to another.
This image reminds me of dancing with my husband. For so many years I danced alone or with a large group where being in-step was not necessary. I could move in any direction I desired. But, now, couple dancing. Yikes! I’m a leader, even when dancing, which means my husband gets his toes stepped on a lot. My tendency to lead also results in most of our time standing still since a couple does not get very far when they are pushing against each other.
When an ax is learning how to move with a yoke, it is paired with an ox of equal size and strength. The Bible uses this principle to our lives as we read in 2 Corinthians 6:14:
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?
During our training we need to ensure that we are walking with people who are liked-minded, who have also agreed to bear Jesus’ yoke.
The oxen need to learn to work together in unity or both will experience strain and chafing. In the beginning of training both will hurt a little as they learn to move in harmony, kind of like learning to couple dance.
And so we must also learn to work in unity or we too will feel the strain and discomfort of each person wanting to go his own way.
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. 1 Corinthians 1: 10
At times we may feel the strain and the rub. This does not necessarily mean we have taken up the wrong yoke again. It may be a sign that we are out of step with others. Perhaps there is an issue of conflict or disunity that needs to be reconciled.
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:3
For a pair of oxen to work together, one must be dominant and lead. Two strong-willed oxen result in a lot of tension.
As we live this Christian life, sometimes we will need to lead and sometimes we will need to follow. The trick is learning to hear what God is asking of you and to obey.
If we want to plow some fields we need to bear a properly fitted yoke, be yoked with others of similar builds, and know our role.
May I encourage you to look at who is sharing your yoke and see how well you are working together? If there is any tension or strain seek forgiveness, humility, and unity. And remember He is a good and gentle teacher.
Perhaps next week I will share with you about pulling a load and working in the woods.