As a youngster I worked on farms and did a lot of hay baling. As we would head to the field I would always look whether or not the baler was wire or rope. Rope-tied bales were about half the weight of a wire-tied one. Of course, this was in the day before the big two ton bales. As an “athlete” I enjoyed the heavier bales for the conditioning factor. As a teenager with other plans, the straw bales did not take the energy needed for the weekend. The ultimate was a wire-baled machine with green hay; they were really heavy.
In life, when we have the choice, we choose to avoid the heavy scenes in our daily drama. We have always heard that God won’t give us more than we can bear. Tell that to Job! Sometimes, I feel like Job when he cried out in frustration, “God is not a man like me that I might answer (challenge ) him, that we might confront each other as in court. If only there were someone to arbitrate between us,...” Job 9:32-33. Some translations use the work “mediator or umpire.” God and I need to discuss limits -- what God thinks I can bear and what I think I can bear may be miles apart!
Usually we can see this activity between mom and dad. Dad will pull out the belt and mom will step between, not to free me from the penalty, but to make sure the punishment is not too punitive. In Job’s case, he wanted freed because he felt he did not deserve the punishment -- the burden was too heavy, he couldn’t carry it.
The dilemmas we face in life can be like weights that drag us down and hinder the joy in us that God has intended we experience. Illness, debt, addictions, and the scores of syndromes weigh us down and squish the joy of the Lord in us.
Jesus addressed this problem with the parable of a yoke. The yoke is how the oxen were attached to the wagons they pulled, If the yoke did not fit right, the oxen suffered while they towed the load. If the yoke was done right, the oxen pulled the yoke and the force of yoke-ness (linguistic license, please!) pulled the wagon. Push mowers are designed ergonomically today: you push the handle and the force of handle-ness pushes the mower.
Jesus proclaims that ergonomic principle: We trust Jesus Christ, and the force of Jesus Christ-ness moves our burdens -- please not: moves the burden, not remove! The handle-ness may push the mower, but we still have to do the lawn.
How the does Jesus actually lighten our heavy burdens? One of the Snow White dwarfs gives us a clue, “Whistle while you work...” there is a chorus, “The Joy of the Lord is my strength...” If we can raise the altitude of our joy in Christ, we can lower the weight of the burden that this world presses upon us.
If we chose our burden (You can do that???), things might be different. Some burdens are put on us by others, but we don’t have to take them. If A has a problem, I will listen and help where I can, but I will not accept the burden.
Finally, get help. As a volunteer firefighter, I listened on the local scanner to another department struggling with a situation. Then I heard, “...Joe, we’re stuck... we can’t move the truck... the fire is all around us ... where are you...?” Joe replied, “We can’t get there...we are tied up here...” We waited. Finally, our chief called them and asked, “Need help?” “No, we’re ok...” We went anyway and pulled the stuck vehicle out after fighting the fire around it. One of the firefighters was slightly burned and the truck was saved. Help?
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me... my yoke is easy and my burden is light” Matthew 11:28-29.