Bible Verse: “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)

Scripture Reading: Matthew 11:25-30

None of us wants to go through our entire lives feeling as if we need to posture ourselves and present a persona of someone we’re not in order to be accepted. We want to show up to our lives as who we really are. Whole. Confident. Satisfied in our identity as the beloved.

Thankfully, this is also what God wants for us.

Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” When Jesus first spoke those words, many of the people in his first-century world were anxious about whether they would have enough food for the next day, living as they were in an agrarian subsistence economy. Or, they may have been worried about their children’s health, because most newborns of that time didn’t live to see the age of twenty.

In our modern era, we also have concerns about finances or health matters. But we also feel angst about whether we are achieving enough, or if we are good enough – anxieties that those living during the first century would not have felt as keenly. Regardless of what wearies or burdens us, Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me” (my emphasis).

When Jesus uses the word “yoke,” he’s describing a wooden bar placed across the back of an ox, making it easier to pull a plough or heavy load. It hardly sounds restful, does it? Yet what if the yoke that Jesus invites us to carry doesn’t make us feel heavier but lighter? Before Jesus speaks about this yoke, he give thanks for his relationship with his Father and rejoices that his Father in heaven knows, loves, and trusts him. The yoke that Jesus wants to place on us is his yoke – the yoke that has been placed upon his shoulders by his Father in heaven – it is the yoke of his Father’s love. When we wear this yoke of God’s love, the burdens of our life feel lighter. When we sense God’s love upon our shoulders, we are able to show up in the world with more of our whole selves. We are able to love out of the best part of our Striving Adam selves because we are not afraid to pursue actions that involve risk and possible failure. We also live out of the best part of our Soulful Adam selves as we seek to deepen our relationship with God and the people around us.

May you live more and more fully into the knowledge that the Creator of the universe cherishes you as a son or daughter.

May you become fully present, confident, and engaged in your life as you take on the yoke of God’s love and lay down the exhausting burden of living as an insecure facsimile of yourself.
May you live a life of daring courageousness, depth, and relationship as you come to be loved and to love more and more fully and more and more abundantly.

— Ken Shigematsu in Survival Guide for the Soul: How to Flourish Spiritually in a World that Pressures Us to Achieve. Copyright © 2018 by Ken Shigematsu

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