Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Put That Burden Down!

            “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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.”  (Matthew 11:28-30)

            What kinds of burdens weigh you down?  How can these verses be applied to your life?
            I think there are many different kinds of burdens that we carry around that we were never meant to carry.  And we need to put those burdens down and take Jesus’ yoke upon us instead.   

            - We exhaust ourselves trying to make something happen, to achieve success or accomplish something good or figure out the future or fill our lives and homes with bigger and better things. 
            But Jesus’ yoke is “Just be faithful to do the job I gave you today and let Me handle the results and the future.  And be content with what I give you today, with your daily bread.  You cannot schedule ‘learn to be content’ for tomorrow; it has to be today.  Right now!  And count your blessings, not someone else’s.”
            - We run ourselves ragged trying to keep all the balls up in the air, to keep it all together, to meet all our needs, and to stand on our own two feet. 
            But Jesus’ yoke is “Lean on Me.  Fall on Me.  Need Me!  I will guide and provide.  I will make something beautiful out of your messes.  I will be strong in your weakness.  Humble yourself before Me, and I will lift you up in due time.”    
            - In unhealthy ways, we try to be all things to all people, to meet everyone else’s needs, to do their jobs, to change hearts. 
            But Jesus’ yoke is, “Be faithful to do your part as I call you to do, but do not take the control or the responsibilities that don’t belong to you.  I am God; you are not.  I will take care of others and meet needs and change hearts.  Just do your part, and let others take responsibility for theirs.” 
            - We fight to change someone into something we want them to be.  And it hurts us when they aren’t doing what we want them to do. 
            But Jesus’ yoke is “Just love that person anyway and let Me mold them into what I want them to be.  Your job isn’t to change them, but to pray for them and to pray for wisdom and the strength to love them anyway and to live with them as they are.”
            - We wrestle with other people, trying to get them to meet our needs.  And we feel more and more heart-broken and discouraged when our needs are not getting met by those we rely on.
            But Jesus’ yoke is “Rely on Me!  Let Me meet your needs and be your all.  Find your wholeness in Me.  Other people will always let you down at some point, but I never will.  Don’t put the hope and faith in other people that you should be putting in Me alone.  I can carry you through, even if other people never become what you want them to be.” 
            [And most of our “needs” are really just great, big “wants.”  We “need” to be listened to, appreciated, and patted on the back and told, ‘Good job!’  We “need” to have romantic relationships full of fireworks, to be pampered, to have our way, and to have a bigger home and nicer vacation.  Etc.!  But in reality, these are just “wants,” aren’t they? 
            We cannot let our relationships (or our jobs or ministry roles or other roles) hinge on if other people meet these needs or not.  Marriages fall apart when this happens.  A marriage vow isn’t “Until I am no longer satisfied with you.”  It’s “Till death do us part!”  And this is a vow before God. 
            If your “needs” are not being met and if prayer  hasn’t changed the other person, pray that God changes you, that He helps you learn to live with things as they are, that He redefines and meets your needs, and that He helps you thrive in that relationship anyway, even when there is disappointment.  Earthly disappointments and trials are some of the best times to grow spiritually and learn new aspects about God and yourself. 
            And remember that He notices all you do.  Your effort and sacrifices and faithfulness matter to Him and will be rewarded in the end, as long as you remember that you work for Him and for His glory and Kingdom. 
            What is your responsibility before the Lord, even in a discouraging relationship when your “needs” are not being met?  Figure that out.  Focus on that, instead of on what the other person should be doing.  And just be encouraged that He notices and appreciates all that you faithfully, humbly do for Him, and it will be rewarded.]
            - We struggle to force an answer to prayer because we think we know what we need and how He should answer.  And it discourages us when it isn’t happening the way we want.  We question ourselves, our faith, and our God. 
            But Jesus’ yoke is “Ask whatever you want, with thanksgiving, but trust that God knows best and that He will give you what He wants you to have, what He knows you really need.” 
            [I’m not saying this is easy to do.  Trust, for many of us, is a very hard thing to learn because of our pasts.  But it is a lot harder and more discouraging when we live life trying to strong-arm God into doing things our way, when we use prayer or ‘good behavior’ to try to manipulate God, when we struggle to figure things out and work things out on our own, and when we carry the weight of the world on our shoulders instead of letting God carry us.  Peace and trust will grow as we experience more and more of God’s faithfulness and wisdom in the times that we let go of the control and trust Him.]
            - We work hard to earn God’s attention, delight, favor, forgiveness, or love by jumping through more hoops, following the “formula,” and putting on a “good Christian” show.  Then He would really love us and forgive us and value us, right? 
            But Jesus’ yoke is “It’s not about earning.  It's about simply accepting My love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace, which is un-earnable, free, and already available to you for the taking.  It’s about letting Me love you, no matter how broken you are.  It’s about opening up the closed-off areas of your heart and letting My unconditional love deep into the broken parts so that I can heal them, make you whole in Me, and bring you to life again.” 
            He loves us as much as He can possibly love us . . . right now . . . as we are.  And we need to let that love in, to accept it as a gift, if we are ever going to live in it.  It can never be earned, it can only be accepted in thankfulness.

            Jesus’ yoke is a lot lighter than the yokes we place on ourselves.  When you find the burdens too heavy to carry, put them down.  You were never meant to shoulder those burdens anyway.  Give them to the Lord, in prayer.  And ask Him what yoke He wants you to put on instead.  His yoke will always be more about gentleness, humility, grace, and peace than our yokes are.  And He will help us shoulder the burdens He gives us.  We are not meant to carry them alone.  When we trade our burdens for His and when we let Him help us carry them, we will find greater rest for our souls!    
Can you think of any other burdens that we place on ourselves?  What is "Jesus' yoke" instead?