As I was lamenting current situations in my professional and personal life, a mentor and friend said, “Are you praying about it?” My immediate response was “Yes,” but then I had to think. Am I really praying about it? Or am I complaining to God about it? Am I praying for answers, or am I praying to vent? Am I praying with the intent my heart will be changed, or am I praying that others and circumstances will be changed?
In another blog today (I am so sorry I don’t remember whose) I read that in America Christians pray for the problems to be removed off their back, but in other countries Christians pray for their backs to be made stronger. I have not been praying for a stronger back; I have been praying for a lighter load. And, that wouldn’t be a bad thing I suppose if I was truly following Matthew 11:29-30, which says, “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." But, if I look deep into my soul, I have to admit that I’m not taking upon Christ’s yoke, I am trying to throw off any and all yokes. But, what is a yoke? The definitions I found are that a yoke is (1) wooden bar or frame by which two draft animals are joined at the heads or necks for working together, and (2) a clamp or similar piece that embraces two parts to hold or unite them in position.
My goodness! I need a yoke! What a blessing to be joined together with Christ for the purpose of working together! And, I want to be embraced by Christ and united with Him! I have been looking at my burdens all wrong, and praying about them with the wrong intent.
It’s just like reading the Bible in context and really seeking to understand what God is saying (rather than what we’d like Him to say or what we think He should say). Hebrews 12:1-3 reads, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” This passage says to throw off everything that hinders us …not to just throw off everything. And, it admonishes us to run the race marked out for us…not the race we want to run or think we should run or the path that looks the best. The passage tells us to consider the opposition Christ encountered and that we should not grow weary or lose heart. I have been praying for removal of the opposition…removal of the yoke…without realizing what the yoke is really for. It is not to restrain me, it is to guide me alongside Christ, to join me with Him.
I have much to be praying about...my children, my marriage, my occupation, my finances, my future…but I’ve been lax in praying about my heart in these situations; I’ve neglected to ask God to strengthen my back to be able to carry the yoke; I haven’t considered the opposition Christ endured and counted myself blessed to be in His company. And, thanks to God, that my opposition isn’t the same as His, but that He cares just as much about my life and my hurts…and your’s…that He willingly puts on that yoke to carry it with us.