"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."
I run a mommy-and-me program at my church every Wednesday morning. In addition to a Bible puppet story, craft, and snack, there is twenty-five minutes of open play with toys donated by parishioners. The toys are stored in four plastic bins kept in the closet. The kids LOVE to help carry the bins out for play time, and then bring them back in after. Most times it takes three or four kids to carry one bin, with a mom closely supervising, ready to intervene if someone is going to get hurt, ready to steer the group in the right direction, and ready to lend a hand to lighten the load.
There is one little boy, named Daniel, who insists on carrying a bin all by himself. Granted, this boy is incredibly strong for an almost-four-year-old, but he's still just a kid. As he carries that bin, it bumps off of walls and almost bangs into other kids as he struggles under the heavy weight of it.
Without a doubt, I am a Daniel. No matter my age, or who offers to help me, I continue to carry heavy loads all by myself. Obviously it's a control issue. I want to carry my bucket all by myself so I can decide what I put in it, where I take it, and what I do with it all. But when I get overburdened, or start crashing into walls and people, it's time to make a change. Daniel is only almost-four. Developmentally, he's supposed to be challenging boundaries, testing his capabilities, and demanding his right to do things all by himself. But I'm a LOT older than almost-four. I should have learned all those lessons long ago.
Fortunately, Jesus is a patient teacher. Over and over again, He's teaching me that He's gentle and humble of heart; I need to learn to be gentle with myself. He teaches me that He doesn't give heavy burdens; I need to learn that most of my burdens are of my own making and aren't necessary. It's just like things are with Daniel: no one has asked Daniel to carry the bucket of toys all by himself. In fact, there's eight other kids surrounding him, begging to help. Likewise, Jesus isn't asking me to do anything all by myself either. He's constantly surrounding me with people who are willing to help; I just need to learn to recognize my limitations, and accept that help when it's offered.
More than the people around me, though, it's Jesus who is always patiently waiting to be the source of that help. He's hovering over me, like the supervising adult hovers over Daniel, just waiting to intervene if I'm going to get hurt, ready to steer me in the right direction when I get off course, ready to lend a hand when things get too heavy. Despite my control issues, and the fact that most of my burdens are self-created, He is offering to share the weight of each and every one of them. The yoke He's offering is easy. It joins us together. It spreads the weight out. It lightens the load. All I need to do is ask. Jesus is incredibly respectful. He'll never overstep my boundaries. The onus is on me to humble my heart, and ask for His help. It is then that I will find rest for my soul.