Resting With A Yoke On

I’m one of those happy people who gets to work in my pajamas sometimes. My work, however, doesn’t involve sleeping. I have to be awake. More than that, I have to be thinking, communicating, and putting significant effort in if I’m going to do a good job. You too, huh?

Maybe I was just extra-ready for bed, but when I read the classic verse recently, the reference to “rest” made me laugh:

“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.” –Matthew 11:29

Who rests with a yoke on?

Worn by animals under the direction of their master as they labor, yokes are devices for steering oxen and other livestock through the process of completing their purpose. Biblically, people are referred to as being under the yoke of slavery to sin and the yoke of kings or oppressive nations.

Taking on Jesus’ yoke means we, as laborers for Christ, submit to Him as a master. Jesus tells us about what He’s like as a master: gentle and humble. He says His yoke teaches us. That certainly differs from other kinds of yokes used to burden or belittle.

But the idea of His yoke being restful?

Work isn’t restful- even for doers like me.

Of course, the plain text isn’t talking about sleep-rest. What Jesus refers to is “rest for your soul.”

Rest for the soul– that we actually do find when submitting to His yoke, as His laborers.

rest-for-the-soul-that-we-actually-do-find-when-submitting-to-his-yoke-as-his-laborers

Our lives are wrapped up in striving. We live by effort, working at this and that to create and fulfill until it’s time for what’s next. We work for money just to need to work for more money. Our goals are stepping stones to bigger goals. The mentality tends to be “make it count.”

Meanwhile, our souls are ever straining against the yokes of these masters. Our earthly masters don’t aim to fulfill us, but to be fulfilled.

Whether money, reputation, ambition, or meaning, our not-Christ masters and their yokes chaff against the truth of what God made us for: Him.

“That is why we labor and strive,” Paul explains to Timothy, “because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior” (1 Timothy 4:10.)

Do you want rest for your soul, rest for the soul weary from the striving to save you using money, fame, ambition, or anything else?

Put your hope in your Savior. You’ll put on His yoke. He’ll lead you without all the chaffing and straining against deadlines and expectations you weren’t made to meet. He’ll lead you in the way of perfect peace, a soul-restful path indeed.

 

Interested in guest posting on First And Second? Click HERE…new series on Sin Lies, looking for your thoughts!

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

 

WordoftheWeek: (Pure) Joy

The NIV translation of James 1:2 says:

“Consider it pure joy,

my brothers and sisters,

whenever you face trials of many kinds…”

I love this verse. Abby shared it in her post this week about how loneliness can be a blessing. She describes a lonely season in her life and how, through it, she found joy in growing closer to the Lord.

An often cited verse, the contrast and command of this verse is striking. Joy and trial are tied together as a directive. When life is hard- consider it a joy. For Abby, this meant her struggle with loneliness was to be counted joyful.

It just seems so backwards, doesn’t it? Almost like Scripture says “deny and defy reality. Things stink. But you can be happy anyway.”

Fortunately, that’s not what God calls us to.

Notice the word “pure” in front of joy? It isn’t there in every translation. However, it’s inclusion in the NIV is probably because of what it notes about the particular type of joy we are called to in our trials.

The transliterated word is “chara.”

This type of joy is defined as:

“properly, the awareness (of God’s) gracefavor; joy (grace recognized).”

What we’re called to here is recognizing God’s grace in our trials. These Greek words for grace and joy are even cognates (cousins!) These words are bound together by the blood of Christ.

Joy in our trials isn’t about putting on a happy face for others’ sakes or forcing yourself to feel differently than you really do. Pure joy, chara, is about looking to Christ and recognizing His grace in even the worst of trials, the muck of sin, and the painful consequences of living in this fallen world. Joy is the natural perspective that comes with this recognition.

It doesn’t always bring a smile to a tear-soaked face. Joy rarely changes or ends the trial.

But joy can point you to the glimmer of light in the darkness, enabling you to fix your eyes on the truth.

Joy can make the choice to continue on count for something even while the weights are stacked heavily against you.

The joy of God’s grace is enough to bring us through those trials where you see His grace (sometimes where you see it most!)

Consider His grace. Recognize it. Joy will come!

This post is being shared on:
#WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

WordoftheWeek: ROCK

“Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken… Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.”

-Psalm 62:2 & 6

What does it mean that Christ is our rock?

  1. That He is a Refuge

Earlier this week, Niki wrote about turning to her rock when she battled cancer. She urged us to continue seeking our rock and His safety as the pressures of life indicate that we need to grow.

Many references to God throughout Scripture include the word rock or synonyms like refuge, hiding place, and fortress. When we speak of Christ as our rock we in part refer to the fact that we are safe with God and that He will protect us.

  1. That He is a Firm Foundation

We are advised in Matthew 7 to build our homes on the rock. Spiritually, physically, and relationally- this is sound advice. Christ as a rock is also Christ as our foundation.  He is a strong, unchanging, and secure foundation. We know when build all things starting with and relying on Him that we don’t need to fear. As the classic hymn says: all other ground is sinking sand.

  1. That He is Unmoving

Have you ever tried to move a big rock? It’s tough. We know that the Lord doesn’t change– that’s what makes us certain that when we seek His safety, counsel, protection, and foundation, the promise is rock solid. He is unmoving and unmovable.

  1. That the Saved are Not Shaken

The verse in Psalms proclaims it best, tying together two important points: He is our rock AND our salvation. When we trust in the rock, we trust in one who is completely reliable.

We are saved by one who is immovable! That’s a safe saved.

This post is being shared on: #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

Lessons from a Lobster- The Word Works Series!

Glad to have Niki and her candid, humorous storytelling kick off this series. Niki’s blog My Story, My God, is a brave place. There you’ll find frank, funny stories that point to the author of the One story we’re all a part of. She also offers a free eBook called Hearing God’s Voice - A Short Practical Guide. I’m looking forward to reading it soon!

nikiMSMG email mark

Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken… Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

-Psalm 62:2 & 6

Have you ever wondered how a lobster grows? How a small, baby lobster gets to be a big, strong lobster with a shell of steel?

Since their tough, rigid shells don’t flex or grow along with their soft, and might I say rather delicious, muscular bodies, growing as we do isn’t really an option for these mouthwatering invertebrates. Despite my penchant for devouring this tasty crustacean with copious quantities of melted butter, I’ve never really taken the time to fathom this mystery of the deep.

As it turns out, the lobster grows inside its shell and its body starts to push against that inflexible steel-like shell. Pressure builds up for our poor little lobster friend signaling that it’s time to go in search of a safe place to hide. Instinctively the lobster seeks out a nice rock or deep crevice, where it’s safe to shed its protective shell.

For a few short hours (which probably feel like a lifetime to our little friend) until his new shell grows, he’s naked and vulnerable, yet safe under the rock.

A few years ago I had no choice but to be a lobster and seek shelter in God, my rock, because I was diagnosed with cancer; rectal cancer. It was just six short years after I’d held my mum’s paper soft hand as she passed away from lung cancer, and a mere six weeks after I’d cradled my sister’s hand as she’d lost her battle with the same disgusting disease. My world was rocked and the ground fell out from under me. During the long months that followed, I hung onto this Psalm. These two verses smudging together to form, what I now fondly call, my “mish-mash verse”.

“You are my rock and salvation, my fortress and my strength.”

I repeated these words at every turn. As I was scanned, scoped and waited for results.

“You are my rock and salvation, my fortress and my strength.”

As I lay awake at night, alone in the hospital, with nothing but a morphine pump and IV for company.

“You are my rock and salvation, my fortress and my strength.”

When we told our children that, like their grandma and auntie, I too had cancer.

“You are my rock and salvation, my fortress and my strength.”

And now, as I deal with the after effects of a cancer like mine; always requesting an aisle seat near the loo, never leaving home without my Immodium, and learning that sometimes, when the bottom falls out of your world and the world falls out of your bottom, that it’s good and healing to laugh in the midst of the mess.

“You are my rock and salvation, my fortress and my strength.” <ClickToTweet>

When I was faced with such overwhelming pressure that threatened to drown me, I had no choice but to seek comfort, love and peace in God’s presence. Looking back now, I see how my relationship with God, my faith and peace grew beyond measure.

I never thought I’d say it, but I’m actually grateful for that pressure and that journey. <ClickToTweet>

Now, as the stresses of life have eased off, I catch myself relying on other more worldly, less reliable, things when the pressures of life build up; my emotions, other people, food, myself worth. Sadly, these provide little protection from prowling predators and my faith starts to stagnate and I don’t grow.

So I wish I were more lobster-like today as I deal with the pressures, stress and discomforts of life.

The lobster-like me would instinctively understand that as soon as I feel squeezed, pressured, overwhelmed, and about to burst, that’s my signal to hunker down under The Rock. Under the safety of the true rock I am protected and safe to discard the emotions, beliefs and lies that are holding me back. Protected from the enemy I am safe to be naked for a while and free to grow.

When we feel the pressure of life, if we are willing to seek protection and safety under The Rock and be exposed and vulnerable for a while, He will grow us and give us all we need to go back into the world more like Him.

Lobster-therock

When we seek shelter in God, who is our one true rock, He saves us, strengthens us and protects us. When we look to the world for our strength and our salvation we find a paper-mache fortress that is quick to blow away, leaving us at the mercy of the storms of life, unprotected and unable to grow into all that God has for us.

Lobster-looktotheworld

Let me invite you to set your inner lobster free! Or, rather more spiritually put; when you feel the squeeze and pressures of life, seek cover in The Rock, who will save you, strengthen you and protect you in His fortress.

Then you’ll be free to grow into the person (or lobster) He created you to be.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.