Are You Wearing the Wrong Yoke? Or Wearing the Right One Wrongly?

by Blaine Allen

A magician working a cruise ship, with a different audience each week, used the same tricks. Eventually the captain’s parrot caught on and started shouting in the middle of the show: “It’s not the same hat!” “Look under the table!” “Why are all the cards the ace of spades?” One day the ship sank, leaving the magician and parrot clinging to a piece of driftwood. They stared at each other for days, with not a word. Finally the parrot said: “OK, I give up. Where’s the boat?” Been there and felt that in ministry? Pastor, where’s the boat? Youth pastor, worship leader, where’s the boat? But we can’t produce the boat. When our backs are against the wall and our critics say, “Do it and do it now,” we can’t do what only God can do. Moses had been there and felt that—and it was unbearable! “What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their forefathers? Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me’” (Num. 11:11-14). Slam. Slam. Slam. “God, You are a lousy parent.” So who steps in now? Usually it’s the Moses, the leader. That’s the one who feels the responsibility to “make it happen.” And, as the real Moses found out, “the burden is too heavy.” Simply too much. Result? He wants out. A misread. Do these verses ever haunt you? “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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” (Matt. 11:28,29). Our Lord’s yoke is to be easy. Our Lord’s burden is to be light. Two possibilities exist if that is not so for you. Possibility one: The yoke you wear is not His yoke. What you do is not what God wants you to do. It might be a good yoke. It might be a ministry yoke others wear, but it’s not the one for you. That’s why the yoke is hard. That’s why the load is intolerable. Maybe you wear the yoke by default, guilt, or pride. But a yoke you weren’t meant to wear is always an unbearable yoke. It’s okay to say, “I was wrong.” Possibility two: The yoke is meant for you, but you are not learning from Christ how to wear it. Jesus says, “Learn from me.” Learn to wear the yoke with an inward gentleness and humility that gives rest. If you are wearing the right yoke and are pulling His load, but your hide’s rubbed raw, guess who needs to grow in gentleness and humility. Right yokes worn in pride crush. To learn from Him is to learn Philippians 4:13: “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” If you’re not feeling His strength, if things are such that the ministry is unbearable, either you’re wearing somebody else’s yoke or you’re wearing your yoke but you’re wearing it unlearned. Ministry defined as “what God wants me to do” and unbearable defined as “the ministry is too much for me” are incompatible concepts. That is not to say that we don’t tire. That is not to say that we don’t need to get away to regain perspective. That is not to say that we can never leave a hard place. It is to say, though, that God does not use unbearableness to get you to say “I quit.” The testimony of the Spirit, given to all believers, reveals God’s gift for prevailing in any situation that’s within His will: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you” (1 Thess. 5:28). “Grace be with you” (1 Tim. 6:21). “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit” (Phile. 25). Paul learned that: “There was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me” (2 Cor.12:7b,8). “Hello? Yes, Placement Office, I would like to activate my file.” Yet Paul discovered that burdens read as “unbearable” are misreadings. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you’” (2 Cor. 12:9a). Grace: the ability to graciously endure moment by moment. Felt needs—even felt ministry needs—allowed within the providence of God are always tolerable. To use the unbearable as a reason to quit is to deny the sufficiency of that grace. “...God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear” (1 Cor. 10:13b). On July 28, 1962, Mariner I launched. After 13 minutes, it was to accelerate to 25,820 mph; after 44 minutes, 9800 solar cells were to unfold; and after 100 days, the craft was to circle Venus. The reality: four minutes after takeoff, Mariner I plunged into the Atlantic. A minus sign was omitted in the computer program—a minus sign that cost millions. Do you feel frustrated right now? That’s understandable. We all do on occasion. But to give in to frustration is to feed data into your God’s-Will-for-My-Life computer that omits a critical sign. It’s a sign that could cost a bunch. This sign reverses everything. The intolerable becomes tolerable. The unlivable becomes livable. To say in frustration “I’m finished,” is to omit the sign—the ever-sufficient grace of God. You don’t want to do that. The plunge is just too cold. Taken from #/#[Before You Quit]#/# by Blaine Allen. Copyright © 2001 by Kregel Publications. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For more information about the book, visit the author’s Website, #http://www.blaineallen.com#. Blaine Allen has been a pastor for approximately twenty years. He is pastor of a church in a university community (Faith Baptist Church, Starkville, Mississippi).