What began as a Fixer Upper marathon on Netflix this week culminated in the rather impulsive purchase of a yoke. A yoke. With a freshly birthed vision to redo the family room “farmhouse style,” I remembered an old wooden something stored in the shed. An old wooden something that I thought was a yoke, that I thought would be the perfect focal point mounted over the sectional, a reminder of the incredible invitation from Jesus in Matthew 11:
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.
Except when I went out to the shed to retrieve my weathered relic, I discovered it wasn’t a yoke at all. I don’t, in fact, have any idea what it is, only that it isn’t what I wanted or had imagined. And by now I was way too excited about my soul stirring inspiration to let it go.
I love the imagery of a yoke – a wooden crosspiece, which when bound to the necks of a pair of oxen, enables them to pull a load. A pair of oxen. Two. Christ and me. Christ and you. “Come to me, all you who are weary…” He invites us to walk alongside Him, yoked with Him, rather then trudge and tarry and attempt to carry our own impossible burden. “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
When the yoke is employed, the two oxen work together forming a team, one assuming leadership, guiding the other. For that reason, farmers often paired a green animal with a trained ox, the yoke acting as a restraint. And while the lead ox carried the majority of the load, the young animal walked alongside and learned from his elder. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” Jesus, shouldering the burden, you and I following his lead. Student and teacher, weak and strong, inexperienced and wise… Familiar. Why is this so familiar? And in a flash, the lightning speed revelation – when everything suddenly made sense. Why my busy home, with clutter and dishes and laundry and noise feels so completely right. A house once neat and tidy and quiet and organized – upended by a family who came to visit and never left. Here we are, young and old, weak and strong, teacher and student, grandchildren and parents and grandparents – walking together, working together, sharing the burden. Is this not what Christ has modeled for us? Is it not what the teacher has taught?
More than ever, I am captivated by the yoke. The beautiful symbol of Jesus lifting our burdens, lightening our loads, and leading us to lessen the loads of others. And I begin to search…
The Craigslist ad led me to a green house, white trim. Joe greeted me in the driveway, yoke beside him. He revealed that he collected antiques, but the yoke didn’t really fit his style. And then shared that it had belonged to his father-in-law, had hung proudly on his house, but he had passed away… Joe’s voice trailed off and I sensed from him a reluctance to release this wonderful piece of his family’s history. “I love it,” I smiled. “It’s exactly what I was hoping for.” And patting the yoke as if it were a beloved pet, I assured him that it had found a good home. And indeed it has. A good home, where we are – with Christ, and one another – yoked together.