Slip into the Yoke
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. – Matthew 11:29-30
In days gone by, farmers used their work animals as machines—a means to accomplish their day’s work. If the farmer had two such animals, he used
a yoked set instead of a single one, enabling him to get more work done. The yoke, a double-collar device, when slipped over the necks of two side-by-side
animals at once, distributed the workload between them so that their joint effort was more productive than two separate animals.
Since these draft animals were living beings, they grew old and needed to be replaced with younger, stronger horses or oxen from time to time. The
replacements needed to be trained for fieldwork, and instead of training two immature animals together, often an experienced animal would be yoked
with an inexperienced one. The older animal knew all the commands: when to move forward, when to pull, when to turn, and when it was necessary
to wait for the master’s next direction. By example, if something happened to startle the team, the practiced veteran remained calm, modeling the
behavior of a valuable team member. When it was time to plow, he went steadily down the furrow in a straight line, usually taking more of the burden
on himself, training the newcomer to pull with him instead of fighting in another direction.
In the focus verse, we are encouraged to slip into the yoke with Jesus. As we do, He teaches us how to walk straight down the narrow way with a steady
pace, while He takes the heavy end of our burdens. Yoked together in this “easy” yoke, we eventually learn that our Companion knows the best way.
Employment worries, financial woes, the challenges of raising children, attempting to age gracefully, and seasons of pain do not need to deeply
distress us when our yoke-fellow provides rest for our souls.
Let’s remember, “we are labourers together with God” (1 Corinthians 3:9). By not struggling against our Partner, more can be accomplished, and we discover
at the end of a day that we have plowed a straight furrow—one that is acceptable. Successive furrows become easier to get right as we gain
more experience. There is work to be done, and we meet the challenge with Jesus beside us. Slip into the yoke!