I am a slow learner.
I am smart. But with certain things, it take me a long time to get it.
And learning is usually painful. Always has been.
I have a distinct memory of doing flashcards with my mom when I was 4 and having anxiety about not knowing how to read going into Kindergarten.
Honey, You GO to Kindergarten to LEARN how to read. My mom said it, so confused.
At four, there was an overwhelming fear of not knowing what I needed to—being unprepared. Being responsible for things I could not do. It wasn’t out of a need to please others. It was a fundamental questioning of do I have the right stuff to do what is ahead of me.
My counselor has recently invited me into a season of learning with and from the Lord. She has encouraged me to take the things I am unsure about—the things I don’t understand—the things I want to be different TO Him and to see what He says, how He responds.
Rather than trying to figure it out on my own.
But I am slow.
To do even that—to simply go to Him.
Why is it so hard?
What are the barriers?
Feeling like a burden.
Fear—of SO many things.
How do I do it?
How do I go to Him?
Matthew 11:29-30 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Jesus uses such interesting language and metaphors.
A yoke is a wooden crosspiece fastened over the necks of animals to attach to a plow.
I imagine a wild horse having one of those put around its neck.
They get nervous; they buck. The handler has to be so gentle to even get close enough to put the yoke around the animal.
I’ve watched enough westerns to see handlers not be gentle. They approach often foolishly—too fast, too rough, without building trust.
And the horse makes them pay. The horse bucks and runs away. There is a stand off of frustration, sweat and feeling beat up.
One of my favorite movies growing up was called Wild Hearts Cant be Broken. There is a scene where this girl who is a horse diver is trying to develop enough courage to dive the horse with unbelievable odds stacked against her. She needs to trust the horse, and the horse needs to trust her. So, she goes to the horse and strokes the horse ever so gently and slowly, until she has developed enough trust. There is a really intimate almost asking of permission that happens nonverbally before placing the saddle and the bit.
Jesus doesn’t need to ask permission because of who He is…we are His. Just like a horse belongs to the horse owner. BUT, this passage points to His heart. He is telling us to take His yoke upon us because of how His heart beats towards us. Not so much His status, but the essence of His being and His faithful, unrestrained love for us.
I am gentle and humble in heart.
He isn’t intrusive.
He isn’t forceful.
He isn’t unaware of the wild beauty within us.
He doesn’t want to crush that.
He just wants to be with us.
He also knows our hearts—He knows what is hard for us. He knows why we suddenly pull away or twitch in response to His touch. He isn’t blind to our weaknesses or frailties. He chose us with those in full view.
He wants to steer us—lead us—equip us for the things that lay ahead. He is a good and faithful leader. He wants what is best.
Okay, so maybe.
Maybe I can trust someone like that.
Maybe I can trust Jesus.
When I think about being attached to a plow by a wooden, heavy thing laid across my shoulders, my response is, nah. No thanks.
But what does He say about the wooden heavy thing?
It is light and easy.
He says He gives us rest in the midst of whatever work is ahead.
Again, I twitch.
Does that mean my life will be easy?
Will I get all the beautiful things I want?
Will things not hurt?
Will life be a series of days, sipping Pina Coladas on the beach.
My life has not been that. The lives of people I walk with has not been that.
So, what do I make of this verse?
I think He is speaking more of Himself—His relationship with us as opposed to the circumstances we find ourselves in. The yoke ties us to Him and He is beautifully easy. Not in a simple way, but in a gloriously satisfying way. So, we are tied to Him—and He provides for us. He guides us in gentle nudges. He only pulls back sharply when we are in danger. He pats us and looks in our eyes allowing us to know He sees us—is proud of us—is never leaving. He gives us freedom within the relationship to be the wild free creature He designed us to be, all the while calling us into the work He does with us.
Learning with a God like that…sounds fun.
My four-year-old self sighs a sigh of relief with less dread about a reading test and more excited anticipation of the stories I will get to hear in the process of learning this new skill. Learning new things with a teacher who loves to make my eyes light up in wonder and who comforts me when learning is hard.
Bracing for the bit.