Updated: Oct 5
A Hookup Gone Wrong
It is summertime. Sweet, sweet summertime.
Since my husband and I are both teachers, summertime means we get to be home with our 4 young children, blissfully resting, reading, enjoying the sun-kissed days of summer. A blessing, right?
Oy. It should be.
But sometimes I lose sight of that blessing and pick up the burden of summertime responsibilities. I carry it around like a heavy mountain hiker’s backpack, letting it run the show. When that happens, I find myself constantly thinking Why am I always so tired? If only I could get some real rest.
A house with 6 people at home every day- all day- means mounds of laundry, a constant flow of food preparation, toys continually dumped out and scattered, grass and mud brought inside by tiny feet, entertaining 4 children ages 3-8 day in and day out so they don’t kill each other; on and on the list goes.
Instead of looking for opportunities to be God’s hands and feet to my family, how quickly I start to toil under the “work” that demands my constant attention. Fold the laundry, prepare the meals, pick up the toys, sweep the floors, plan for the day, repeat. Toiling, toiling, toiling… the burden is heavy. I am hooked up with the wrong thing; I am “yoked” with the summertime baggage.
Yoke? You mean that yellow thing in the egg?
That would be a YOLK. I’m talking about YOKE.
In the Bible, “yoke” is referring to a tool farmers use to hook together two oxen, which is then attached to a heavy plow that the oxen pull. It looks something like this:
God uses this imagery 60 times in the Bible; there are laws in the Old Testament (Numbers, Deuteronomy) about how a yoke is to be used, 2 Corinthians talks about being unequally yoked with unbelievers, while Galatians 5 talks about the yoke of slavery.
In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus says “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
He will give me rest?
I will find rest for my soul??
His yoke is easy and His burden is light?! Sign me up, please!
The truth is, we are all yoked with something; something (or someone) is running our show.
What is running yours?
What (or who) are you hooked up with?
Feel like you’re going in circles? Running on the hamster wheel? Doing the same thing day in and day out, going nowhere?
Isn’t that the definition of insanity?
That is an indication you’re yoked with something other than our Lord whose yoke is easy and burden is light.
Here are a few suggestions to help discern what or who may be running your show:
Ask God: What (or whom) am I trying to please? Show me what’s really driving my motivations. He will reveal it to you! He wants you yoked to HIM, so He’ll be faithful to show you what’s in the way.
Look at your schedule- what do you prioritize? Where do you invest your time?
Look at your thought life- what do you think about most? What is at the forefront of your mind?
What motivates you? What are you believing in your heart that moves you to make the choices you do?
When something doesn’t go your way (big or small), what is your reaction? This is a great gut check. (When my morning workout gets interrupted, this grump starts grumbling. Doesn’t everyone and everything know how important and necessary it is for me to get this workout done?! What does that attitude say about what is ruling me?)
God created our hearts to find true rest only in Him. When we are toiling under a heavy load, pulling the proverbial plow with which we have become so acquainted, our heart is not at rest.
Maybe you’re thinking Well, yeah, but I don’t have a choice, my daily routine does not have room for change! There are deeper reasons why we do what we do; we may think everything we do is necessary, but some tasks are not just tasks- they are us toiling.
We need to take an honest look at what we are really after.
Every other thing we are yoked with is a joke
God knows us so well; He knows we will try to seek rest in provisions outside of Him. When what we’re yoked up with dominates or tries to take the place of God in our life, it becomes an idol of our heart. In his book, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, Paul David Tripp defines an idol of the heart as “anything that rules me other than God.” What is motivating (aka ruling) you? What are you yoked with other than God?
Striving to gain favor with God by doing good works
Controlling others/your environment
High expectations of yourself and others, which leads to frustration
Repeated, unconfessed sin
False substitutes for intimacy in marriage
When any one of these things become the reason why we do what we do, it quickly becomes our master. In Romans 6:16, Paul asks, “Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.”
What’s mastering you? What’s driving the choices you make?
When I start to feel overwhelmed by something new or unexpected in my life, I hastily find the easiest thing to control, laundry.
Suddenly that dirty laundry seems like the most urgent and important demand in the world. Why? Because it’s a quick fix. I know how to do it, I know the outcome of doing it, and it’s easy. How quickly I yoke up with a desire to control; then round and round I go… like the spin cycle of a washing machine.
Vow to change: an encouraging call to action
Stop the Cycle
So, let’s recap. How do we stop the cycle of toiling under a heavy yoke and get back on track to find the peace, balance, and rest our souls desperately seek?
Read the following, spend some time with the Lord in prayer, then write out your responses.
Appreciate that God created us to rest and to only find true rest in Him.
Identify ways in which you seek to satisfy your desire for rest by turning to solutions other than what the Lord provides.
Recognize the thing(s) you may be hooked up with other than God (use the list above as a starting point), then seek the Lord’s forgiveness. Ask Him to give you a desire for His will and direction for your life.
REST in remembering Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Yoke yourself to Christ; all other things we yoke with are jokes.
Are you ready to yoke yourself with the Lord and get to work in His kingdom?
Then it’s time to move out of your kingdom. Learn the difference between His kingdom in yours, and how to trade one for the other, in the next post: My Kingdom vs. God’s Kingdom: Trading One for the Other.