Nobody is boasting these days that life in 2021 is simple. Covid caught us all flat-footed, and after a full year and many breakthroughs, we’re still overwhelmed by the worst levels of contagion ever. Nothing is clear sailing! We’re contending with invisible giants never seen before, and no one with brains is resting on their laurels.
Of course, whether we deserve it or not, life endows us seasons where everything blithely goes our way, demanding relatively little exertion or personal brilliance. The winds of favor blew over the simple ignorance of youth, and we rode them with obnoxious arrogance, thinking that stars of destiny should undoubtedly align to our benefit!! It isn’t until hitting the rough, contrary patches where we are doing our utmost and making no traction does it dawn on us that we may have been a touch entitled. We grow up and realize the planets do not revolve around us. We gain a new appreciation for the good times. We learn new respect for God’s promises we did not respect.
Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-31
What exactly does it mean that “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light”? These words of Jesus are more than a bit perplexing. Maybe I’m interpreting this a trifle liberally, but according to Him, there should be no circumstances in life we are not be able to navigate, and come through unscathed, if we depend on Him. The Lord promises that He will actually take the lead, absorbing the full blast of whatever contrariness assail us. However, His concepts about easy and ours may not be quite the same.
Easy. Google dictionary defines it as "Achieved without great effort; presenting few difficulties; free from worries or problems". Merriam Webster adds "Something requiring or indicating little effort, thought or reflection." All of these definitions seem diametrically opposed to the ongoing climate of our shared pandemic experience. How are we going to reconcile the Lord's promise, our own emotions, and the current zeitgeist?
Without actually putting words on it, I acknowledge I've been internally fighting for that 'easy yoke'. Lots of us have. Somewhere between lockdown life and pristine theology, real faith has to put on shoes and walk it out. What exactly is easy supposed to look like these days? Amidst the pandemic, what is the 'yoke' of Jesus?
We've already witness the uncertainty, anxiety and stress that life in lockdown is plagued with. Just keeping up with daily routines and staying safe is a real challenge. We're afraid to go for groceries! People are experiencing relational pressure, work burnout and social deprivation. Easy is not simple. Easy is not the same as lazy or slothful. Easy is not careless. Easy doesn't mean ignoring the very vivid, intensely painful and perplexing situation we find ourselves in. But somewhere in the whirlwind of all this madness, there's a still, calm center in the eye of the storm. There's a cache or redemptive purpose, new direction, fresh growth. There may be victory of taking back lands forfeit to past trauma. If we'll just trust Him and keep walking, He'll work the miracles.
Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.
Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child.
Let Israel hope in the Lord from henceforth and forever. Psalm 131
How do you relinquish control without abandoning hope? This is our present assignment. Maybe, an easy yoke is simply identifying the most pressing task of the day, and giving yourself fully to it. It’s knowing what the Lord’s priority is for you, and fully embracing it. Staying easy is refusing to entertain the prevailing paranoia and rebellious contrariness. Prepare to glean the unusual opportunities presented. Prioritizing family life and other close relationships also seems blessed with anointing oils. Finding ease means excelling at the basics of intimacy; time in the Word, prayer, meditation and possibly fasting for new directions that may suddenly open now or in the future. It’s time to return to the basics. A soul at ease is a soul that finally understands it’s utter dependence on God’s spirit, and leans in.
What man is he that fears the Lord? Him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose. His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth. Psalm 25:13
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