Sunday, May 29, 2011

The yoke is easy, the Cross is not

I have been couch hopping for a week.  Well, perhaps couch hopping is a more disagreeable depiction than reality.  I have been staying with family- on beds, but in more than one place.  We have not spent three consecutive nights in the same place.  We have had a lovely time visiting, but we are ready to go home.

We came home (is it confusing that I refer to my own house and my parents' house as home? Sorry.)  because someone in the family needed help.  It has been a wonderful, though stressful, week- but it is not my story to tell.  We cannot do much, but I can certainly help with childcare, so that is what I have been doing.

There is always something to worry about.  We can make ourselves sick with worrying.  Sometimes worries are small- I do not have the right salad dressing and my two year old might have a temper tantrum.  Sometimes they are very serious.  We face illnesses and money trouble.  These are the burdens of life, and they come in all forms:  mental, physical, financial.

"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."  Matthew 11:28-30

What does it mean? How does it square with that other verse, "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9:23)  

No one has ever (well, few and no one sane) argued that the life of a Christian is supposed to be easy or stress-free.  Is the verse referring to Heaven?  When we finally come to the feast, we will not have to pay or wash the dishes?  We will not have to order off-menu to satisfy the specific needs of our little ones.  (For clarity: here I am not referring to my darling two year old, but to little Sarah and her demands in utero.)  

I think not.  In Heaven those worries will be gone.  But here, we worry.  The burden does not feel light, it feels heavy.  Sometimes, very heavy.  It is not always easy to be a Christian.

I am no theologian, but I like to think that He is talking about something which we can all understand.  When we are struggling, whatever our specific struggles may be, we go to our loved ones and we talk about it.  We call it "unburdening."  Even when they cannot help, a listening ear can be enough to alleviate.  We get advice, hugs, prayers, support and sometimes just and ear or a shoulder.  Imagine the very best of friends: the one who knows what you are going to say before you say it, but still listens.  The one who could finish your sentences, but does not.  The one who always has the best advice, when you need advice but who also knows when what you need most is a hug.  Jesus offers to be that friend.  Only, He is God.  He knows me better than I know myself and He loves me more than I can imagine.  He can work miracles, and it is only through His grace and power that I have any of either.  

Ok, God. Here I am. I am giving you my burdens.  I will try to learn to hear your voice more clearly, so that I can take that easy yoke.  In you, I will find the strength and courage to carry my cross.  In you, I will rest secure in your love.  

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