Saturday, 23 April 2016

What is an Easy Burden?

by Kath

After writing the blog post last week about 'easy', inspired by Five Minute Friday, I got to thinking that God does promise us easy, but not in the sense of avoiding responsibility or work or other 'difficult' things that we might want to avoid.  Instead, He gives us a yoke and a burden that is just that, a yoke and a burden, but it is an easy yoke and a light burden.  

Some thoughts from Spurgeon on 'easy'.............the Master very graciously and sweetly says, “My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” It appears to me that He spoke thus so that none may despair—that despair may not even come near us and that we may not despond as to the possibility of our salvation. Christ has a yoke for us to wear, so let us seriously wear it. But it is an easy yoke, so let us wear it hopefully. He has a burden for us to carry for Him, so let us be in earnest in bearing it—but it is a light burden, so let us be full of joy at the very prospect of carrying it. Our Savior’s adjectives are always emphatic and they are especially so here.  His “yoke is easy ”—easy in the fullest sense, and His “burden is light ”—light in the most joyous meaning of the term!   See more from Spurgeon here.

It almost seems contradictory to have the words easy and yoke in the same sentence, and yet here they are, as are burden and light.  A burden is not light, it's a burden, and yet Jesus puts the words burden and light together.  

So it seems we can't avoid a yoke or a burden, but we can try and understand what He meant by this paradox.  In fact, whenever there is a paradox in Scripture, we shouldn't just dismiss it as too hard, we should dig to find out what He means by it. 

I got to wondering about what that word easy meant.   I guess if we think of the word 'ease' then it might help us to better understand what easy means.    When we think of the phrase 'he/she does that with ease', then it implies that someone is doing something fairly easily, something that perhaps to someone else is hard.   For me, spelling, writing, reading, teaching phonics and maths is relatively easy.  I understand it, I like it, I enjoy it, even with a student who is sometimes less than enthusiastic.   For my hubby, it's hard.   I find it hard, however, to change tyres, mow a lawn, feed grain out to sheep, balance a budget, but for him it's easy.  It's still a burden but he does it with relative ease.   Is that what the Lord means?  That He will lay on us a yoke and a burden that fits us, one that is designed for us and us for it, and one that He continues to equip us for? 

A yoke in Jesus' times was made specifically for the animal it was laid upon.  It wasn't factory-made - it was made by a carpenter especially for that beast, to fit its particular shape and make it 'easy' for that animal to bear its load.  

Is that what Jesus meant by an 'easy' yoke?   I suspect it is.  He was a carpenter, so He would have understood how to make just such a yoke.    He would have known how to make that yoke fit the animal perfectly so as not to cause any rubbing or sores or undue stress.  

I wonder are we open to God fitting our burden on us just right?  Or do we try and find that fit ourselves?  

Spurgeon goes on to say in his article that our necks must be bent to receive His yoke and His burden.   Do we bend our necks or do we insist on our own way?  Perhaps in the submitting, we find our burden and our yoke fit us perfectly and are indeed easy and light. 

Perhaps it's when we don't submit and don't bend our necks in submission to His  perfect way, His burden, His limits, His plan, that we find our yoke and our burden are ill-fitting and causing us a lot of grief, making our lives a lot more difficult than He intends them to be.   

I think we can have a martyr syndrome when carrying a burden, or believe that a very difficult, tiresome, grievous burden is God's plan for us.   God wants good for us, as we carry our burden for Him.   He isn't a slave driver, but a gentle herdsman.     We don't have to live our lives weighed down by a burden that we weren't meant to carry, but to carry His burden and be fitted with His yoke, one that's just right for us and one that we carry in love, not in martyrdom, nor to earn His love.  
A few images from our farm in rural NSW, Australia

'There is a yoke that is to be borne by all His disciples and the neck of self-will must be bent low to receive it. There is a burden to be carried for Christ—and all the strength that God gives us must be used for His honor and Glory'.   Spurgeon. 

There are burdens we were never meant to carry - worry, guilt, stress, regret, deception, materialism, greed, unforgiveness, idolatry - the list is a long one. 

Are these burdens wearing us down and not allowing us to properly carry the burden He does give us, and not allow us to come in submission to the yoke He has for us?  

If something is too heavy, perhaps we need to take it back to the Master and ask Him if it's really His burden, or ours, or perhaps a burden someone else is laying upon us, that we were never meant to carry.

God does hard, so we can do things with 'ease', the way we were designed to.

Matthew 11:28-29

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, 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.…

Linking up at: Titus2 Tuesdays

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