Can we get honest for a moment? Life can seem too much to bear: just think of it—the stress of making a living; the challenge of relationships; the unknown future that often seems the size of Goliath; the hurt and wounds of the past; the loss of loved ones; the political climate of our day; the desire to fit in; the connected world which feels increasingly isolating; the list goes on and on.
And now we are asked to walk in the way of humility and let go of those things that have given us meaning…or better yet, importance? Stature? Worth? Standing in the midst of the fullness of life, how might I survive this day, let alone the year, with all that is standing before me? Simply, we exercise our faith by learning the art of letting go—letting go of the stress, worry, fear and anxiety. Easy, right?! Not at all!!!
There is this moment in the Gospels when Jesus is teaching among the people. They have been traveling, working, and surrounded by crowds. There seems to be pressure building about what Jesus might do next, all the while he is preparing a group to begin doing that which they have seen. In the midst of the crowd, he pauses to address their unasked question—how do I deal with all this stuff?! Jesus says,
“Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves. My yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
The image is of an oxen who has the yoke, or wooden bar, which he is charged with pulling. These animals, if alone, were stuck with pulling the heavy plows to churn the hardened, rocky dirt. Put together with another, the burden is shared. In essence, Jesus is saying to them, and us, walk with me. Trust in me. Yes, you may think you have to figure it all out alone, but stop. Rest in me. Allow me to do the heavy lifting and walk with me. What a gift to imagine that we don’t walk alone but there is one to shoulder the load with us!