In the Circuit Media service for last Sunday we focussed upon the saying of Jesus "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 light." It's one of those verses that many of us learned off by heart in Sunday School, but it is also a saying with depth and comfort.
For ten years, in an appointment I had in the church, I travelled frequently to Rwanda, visiting the Methodist Church there and going to many of the remote rural areas. In one place I visited, on that occasion with a group of young people from England, we held a football match against the locals. Hundreds of people from the area came to watch and they included a group of six women carrying huge bags of grain, weighing as much as I could carry! When I asked how far they had carried the load I was told from the market twelve kilometres away. I notice that in Africa it always seems to be the women carrying the heavy loads! What was very clear was how you carried the load was crucial. The women knew how to do so, I didn't — they carried it — I couldn't!
Jesus' saying picks up this idea, but applies not simply to carrying physical burdens but also emotional and spiritual ones as well. The "yoke" is the means to carry the heavy burden. The oxen ploughing the land can apply their strength much more effectively because the yoke is well made, comfortably fitting and strong enough to transmit the strength of the oxen to the plough moving through the ground. Jesus is assuring us that though we may well feel at the limit of our strength — yet his gift to us, his teaching, his example and his inspiration will enable us to cope, and indeed to prosper despite the load.
Many of us have been taken to the limit of our endurance by the challenges of the last few months. The burden has been heavy. Your faith in Jesus can carry you through. May each of you be strengthened through the yoke of Christ.
O Love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee"
I give thee back the life I owe,
that in thine ocean depths its flow
may richer fuller be.
Singing the Faith 636 v1.
May God uphold you in these days.