by Barbara Smith
Today, a sun-bleached yoke on a wall or mantle is a distinctive reminder of America's trek West. It is a conversation piece, an obsolete reminder of days long past. It evokes stories of our great-great grandmothers who yoked themselves to the plow and pulled massive loads rather then lose a crop when the oxen died.
In the Bible a yoke was a familiar tool and its basic design has remained the same throughout centuries. It was a harness, usually wooden, which connected a pair of animals to a plow and held them in place. The animals were usually oxen, and a "yoke of oxen" was a pair of animals whom they matched to work efficiently. An older, more experienced animal led a younger animal, and yoking the lead animal to the younger animal required skill. An unmanageable older animal could literally work a younger animal to death.
By the New Testament times, the meaning of the word also meant becoming a pupil of a teacher. Thus, Jesus' gentle invitation to his disciples would have had a specific meaning: "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." (Matthew 11:29-30) That is, to become His pupil would have an entirely opposite effect than that of becoming a pupil of one of the great rabbis. (Matthew 23: 1-32 )
Today, enthusiastic homeschool parents yoke themselves to ambitious home education programs rather then lose our children to a lackluster education system. While a sturdy yoke may very well describe a strategy for fruitful home education, its image may be the key to why we fail to produce the home school harvest we want.
Who walks beside you? To whom are is your homeschool yoked? A Bible teacher pointed out a truth: If I am exhausted and stressed beyond a moment more's endurance, I am not yoked to Jesus Christ. I grow weary often because I was unwilling to be led by my Lord and unwilling to lean on Him. Yoking myself to Christ means hard work. I will grow weary, but no wearier than He did. Christ alone knows my limits and He promises to give me no more than I can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13)
He isn't inviting the fresh, strong or vigorous; but He bids those come who are spent, troubled and defeated. He has designed His yoke as easy and His burden as light. He offers spiritual refreshment for his disciples to persevere. Yoking myself to Jesus means I will learn about Jesus. I will learn gentleness and humility - and my soul will be at rest - although I may work harder than I have ever worked in my life. Jesus offers a gracious invitation to "Come" to His battle-weary disciples, instead of a pretentious demand to "Pass under!" He beckons, "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:29-30)
© Barbara W. Smith 1998, all rights reserved. http://www.chfweb.com
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