“…all ye who labor and are heavy laden…I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28)

The picture in my mind is of me carrying the weight of all the chores I have to do and the obligations I have to meet on my shoulders hanging down from one of those yokes they put across cattle.  At this time, how many of us have clung to these words of Jesus, have grabbed them and rubbed them all over our bodies like warm lotion, have taken them deep into our hearts when we feel like we just…can’t…do…another…thing or take…one…more…step?  I know that I have and that I do!

While we are blessed with days of vacation and time away from our daily routine of life, I am fortunate to have time to catch up with many things…with my writing, but more so, with the reading that I long to do.  I just finished reading A. W. Tozer’s amazing book, The Pursuit of GOD.  One of the most powerful messages Tozer gives is the description of what it is that makes us “heavy laden” and how Jesus can give us rest from that.  He says if we examine our burden ,we will find it to be an interior one, attacking our heart and our mind and reaching our body from within!  Have you ever imagined it that way?  I know I hadn’t.

What does it mean to have an interior or internal burden?  Of course, Tozer mentions specific types of interior burdens, but this idea struck my awareness of some of my own individual buried burdens hanging so heavily on that shoulder yoke.  Maybe it’s feeling unworthy and critical of myself.  Or maybe it’s a painful hurt coming as a result of a criticism or comment that someone made to or about me.  Perhaps it’s when I feel I’ve not done something as well as I think I should have.

Jesus wants to give me rest.  In the Bible he wants me to find who I am in Christ…not who I am in this world… but who I am in Him.  Slowly, these beautiful scriptures chip away at that heavy yoke bringing me down:

  • “I am a child of God” (John 1: 12)
  • “I have peace with God” (Rom. 5:1) The wood is cracking…
  • “I am not condemned by God” (Rom.8:1) The yoke splinters to pieces…
  • “I am completely forgiven” (Col. 1:14) It is nothing but a pile of wood on the ground!
  • “I am tenderly loved by God” (Jer. 31:3) Hallelujah!

“Here,” Jesus says, “Take MY yoke upon you, and learn of me…and you shall find rest unto your souls.”  (Matt. 11: 29-30) This new yoke feels like thick fleece wrapped around my shoulders on a chilly day; this new yoke fills my heart with smiling joys; my soul’s love runneth over!”  Why?

Our Jesus says, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  (Matt. 11: 29-30)  Wearing the yoke of Jesus gives us rest because it reminds us of how incredibly loved we are by Him and by God.  And…wear it every minute…it NEVER wears out!  Thank you, Jesus.

God Bless you,

Barbara

ASH WEDNESDAY – 2017

SERVICE

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” (1 John 3:16)

On this first day of the season of Lent, I like to select a theme to guide my study and prayers for the weeks until Easter, the day of Resurrection! This year I am reminded of a Bible Study we did in our small group on our Spiritual Gifts. In this study, the authors divided our gifts into two main categories, gifts of Speaking and gifts of Serving. Of course, both are intertwined in bringing glory unto God, but I have been struck by the gifts of Serving. In recent messages on humility, our pastor has stressed that the true gifts of Service include placing the needs and concerns of others above our own. During Lent, I have pledged to myself to be more aware of others and less into my own issues and wants. What will that look like?

Our “corporate” daughter always suggests we have a “plan” when facing challenges in our lives. I think my plan must be built around a question posed by our pastor, “…are we willing to identify with John the Baptist who said, ‘[Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease?’“ How can I increase my Jesus in my life?

When a friend is hurting, more of Jesus will mean laying down my life for her in prayer, in listening, in hugging, in accepting her nonjudgmentally right where she is, in thinking how I can comfort her today as I plan my activities.

When a friend is excited about a new venture or success, more of Jesus will mean feeling her joy, encouraging her future with absolutely no comparison to something great I have done, but that it be all about HER and nothing about ME.

When folks hear me speak, will they hear a humble sinner who is nothing without her God and Jesus? Will they hear an inflated spirit, full of myself or one that is bursting with the joy of the love of Jesus? Whose concerns will folks hear first, mine or my honest interest in each one as a child of our God?

So, I look back and I remember those humble Christians I know and have known who always have affirmed my beliefs and successes first, have asked about my life first thing when we meet, have prayed, guided and strengthened me in the scriptures.

The way that they are much more of Jesus than of themselves inspires me in my plan to serve others during Lent. What is your plan? I’d love to know so I can pray for you as I hope you will pray for me!

God Bless you,
Barbara