“The LORD is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the LORD. And it is good for people to submit at an early age to the yoke of his discipline…” (Lamentations 3:25-27 NLT)
I read a devotional recently that got me thinking about yokes. Normally, we view them in a fairly negative light, as objects that restrict and weigh down. In church circles, when we talk about being unequally yoked, the warning is that you are binding yourself forever with someone whose differing beliefs and values will hold you back or, worse, cause pain and damage in your life.
We see pictures of oxen wearing yokes and perhaps feel a twinge of pity for the large animals whose freedom to roam independently is taken away.
However, upon further reflection, I’ve come to realize that a yoke can be a wonderful thing. It’s not a restraint I’m used to—I’m not only single but I’m also self-employed, which means I generally can operate as a free agent—and yet I see the value in using a yoke in a positive way. In fact, I am starting to wonder if a lack of “yokes” might be one of the problems afflicting today’s Body of Christ.
Think about how a yoke functions: A horizontal beam, usually made of wood, is used to tie together a pair of animals—usually oxen—to enable them to work together to pull a heavy load. Neither of those animals would be able to do the work alone but, teamed up side by side, they can make great progress together, drawing from each other’s strength.
In our lives, partnering with a spouse, a friend, a co-worker or a teammate to work toward a shared goal can often be far more effective than someone working alone. Weaknesses and strengths can creatively be fitted together to achieve wonderful results.
Whether or not we go through life yoked with others—some are free spirits while others need more intimacy and community—there is one yoke we must take upon ourselves. It is not only a good yoke, but it is the best yoke. It is the yoke that connects us with Jesus. It is the yoke that allows us to lean on God when we are tired and lost and weak.
Jesus promised: “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.” (Luke 11:29-30)
What have you yoked yourself with in your life? Is it time to disconnect and take on Jesus’ yoke instead?
P.S. I encourage you to read all of Lamentations 3!