Yokes and Holy Whispers

October 11, 2020

I don’t know about you, but sometimes, during my devotions – or when talking with folks – I find myself being held accountable by the Holy Spirit.

I will read a devotional that catches me up short as I hear in my spirit the Holy Whisper – “Catharine, you might want to read that again….”  Other times, when offering my ‘oh, so wise’ council to others, I hear that Holy Whisper again: “Really?  How can you tell others to do that when you are unwilling to do it yourself!”

This week has been one of those Holy Whisper accountability weeks.  Indeed, the past several months have been Holy Whisper accountability weeks!

We are working so hard to keep ourselves afloat in the midst of all the craziness. Many are trying to work from home AND teach their children AND be supportive of their spouses, extended families and friends.  The medical community finally thinks the virus is taking a turn – then a new surge begins.  Teachers are coping with crashing internets and with students struggling to learn virtually. Many are trying so hard not to get caught up in the caustic behaviors around us; trying so hard to love those we disagree with; trying so hard to get life on an even keel, trying to pay the bills, on and on! It’s just way too much!  We are exhausted and weighed down but keep on trudging ahead – fearful of what will happen if we stop.   

And then the Holy Whisper: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 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.” Matthew 11: 28-30

What does a yoke have to do with anything?

Back in the day, an ox experienced in being yoked to a millwheel or a plow would be yoked with an inexperienced yearling so that the young one could learn from him; the young one was only loosely yoked and bore no real weight at all and was just basically along for the ride. Yet,  even so, the younger ox was sufficiently yoked so that it could learn how to fulfill its purpose. If it balked in the yoke, it fell backward; if it tried to run ahead or strain against the straps it became chafed and scarred. Over time, it would learn to walk with – not behind or before – the older animal. 

A lightbulb moment!

When Jesus walked the earth, He was the Peace in every storm, the gentle Presence in every situation, the One Who was generous to all in the sharing of His time. The situations He found Himself in were overwhelming: hordes of sick, and hungry and dying; foreboding clusters of religious and secular authorities looking for reasons to capture and kill Him. Yet, He considered His yoke easy and His burden light. The burden of all creation rests on His shoulders. Yet He speaks of an easy yoke and a light burden; a burden He wants us to carry within the context of His yoke!

Now I get it, at least a little.

Christ was yoked with His Father in heaven. Everything Christ did, He did with quiet, prayerfully thoughtful intention in response to His Father’s leading. (John 5:17, 19-20)  Then, at the end of every day, Jesus went alone to pray: returning the work of the day just ended to God. He rested and prepared for whatever God planned for Him to do when He would awake the next day.  Even Christ listened to a Holy Whisper! 

Additionally, in the midst of His earthly work, Christ trained up others – ‘younger oxen’ if you will; disciples who would carry on the Lord’s work following His ascension.  A few years later, Apostle Paul would pick up the message of burden sharing in his letter to the church at Galatia (Galatians 6:2). 

Christ living in and through His followers down through the ages calls us to be yoked with each other and with Him.  

Alone, the burdens are too great.  Alone, life is overwhelming and exhausting. The slogan of the pandemic has become “we’re all in this together” and indeed we are!  We are called to be yoked together all in the name of Jesus. We are never to expect others or ourselves to bear the burdens of this life alone – even Christ had 12 close friends when He lived among us.

We are to:

  • share each other’s burdens 
  • carry each other when we’re too tired to move
  • lean on each other for mutual support.
  • reach out for help when we are in over our heads.

We are yoked together by the power of the Spirit that infills us and in the love of Christ Who continues to teach us.

I forget this so very often – and am constantly being called to account. None of us are in this alone – all of us are here to share the burdens of life together – all wrapped up in the holy embrace of God.  

Listen to the Holy Whisper. Listen for the cry of each other and let others hear your cry for help as well.

As we share our burdens – all in the name of Jesus – we WILL get through this!

And to God be the glory. AMEN.

Published by Pastor Catharine

Retired ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. I have a Master's of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry (with an emphasis on Spiritual Transformation of Community) from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

One thought on “Yokes and Holy Whispers

  1. Ahhhh, the soothing whisper, like a gentle breeze rustling the leaves or a soft rain falling on my rooftop, your words are a wonderful reminder to be mindful of the Holy Whisperer who offers relief from the weight of these oh so heavy burdens. My sweet Grandmother – Oma, used to say that God gave us two shoulders – one for us and one for our neighbors. I pray I never overlook an opportunity to help share a yoke with someone or be too proud to ask another to share mine. Amen.

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