The Truth About The Past: The Yoke and Oxen Factor

Road beside green, foggy field leading up to a woody area

First I want to tell you that if you feel that something may be holding you back from progressing forward in life, that might mean that you have to let go of the past.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a post called – Overwhelmed by Priorities – I talked about how reading the Bible gives rest for the soul.  In that post, I also talked about a word called, “yoke”.  Funny enough, as a young follower of Christ, I would always get this picture of an egg yolk in my mind.  That’s silly, right?  As I think back to those days, I am so thankful for what God was doing in my life.  After I found Jesus, everything changed so dramatically.  Let me tell you why.

Ladies, in my early days, I just wasn’t privileged to be able to grow up as a child.  My worries back then were not about what kind of grades I would get or what I was going to do with my future or even making plans to see my friends.  I spent most of my childhood trying to get away from home.  It wasn’t a safe place like what my kids have, being able to not worry about what’s going to happen next.  I see my kids grow up, and, honestly, I kind of envy them and their ability to live without worry.  I lived in fear most of the time.  It was a life that kept me chained to an idea that I could never be somebody.  It would eventually lead me into two failed marriages.

It was while I was going through my second divorce that everything changed, and I realized how much I needed God.  So I spent the next five years getting to know the Lord, and life changed dramatically in an awesome way.  Looking back to where I use to be, I now completely understand what Jesus meant when he refers to a “yoke” in Scripture, not only because I have researched it but because I lived it.

So, what is a “yoke”?  Dictionary.com tells us that a yoke is “a device for joining together a pair of draft animals, especially oxen, usually consisting of a crosspiece with two bow-shaped pieces, each enclosing the head of an animal”.  Wikipedia gives this definition of a yoke:  “A is a wooden beam normally used between a pair of oxen or other animals to enable them to pull together on a load when working in pairs, as oxen usually do.”

Here is a picture:

Wooden Yoke

Now then, here is a picture with the yoke attached to two oxen:

Yoke with Cattle

So, a yoke was made to not only control two animals, it was meant to make them carry a load of cargo or to plow a field.  These two oxen in the picture above were forced to wear this yoke.  The yoke was the only way to get the two animals to go the same way.  As you can see, if one animal would want to go one way, the other would be forced to go the same way.  If either did not agree on which way to go, the animals could be injured.  In this instance, the two oxen are forced to do what the OWNER—or the one guiding them —wants them to do, and if they don’t, they could be injured.  Take note that these two oxen don’t just have a yoke on them; they also have someone guiding them.

Leviticus 26:13 NIV tells us “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.”

This was the process I began to go through once I met Jesus.  He opened the door for me to walk away from the old life, but first, he tended to my wounds and taught me what a life of following Jesus looks like.  I needed to find strength to do my part and to learn how to allow God to intervene on my behalf.

This reminds me of what I experienced as I began to realize that my life had been taking me to a place that was not good for me, and I was finding it very difficult to leave it.  It was often very painful and would cause me to go into depression.  My circumstances were a mix of those that were chosen for me as well as choices I made that led to a lot of heartache.  Could you imagine one of those oxen trying to free themselves from the yoke?  There were a lot of people in my life that held me back trying to keep me bound by their ideals that would force me to serve them instead of improving my life for the better.  College was even a struggle and was even looked down upon.  I was never good enough nor was I allowed to pursue a better life to be good enough.  It was emotional, mental, and physical bondage.  This was my yoke, and it was a very difficult one.  This is why it is very important to be very careful as to what kind of choices you make.  Whatever kind of life that you find yourself in whether you chose it or it was chosen for you, I know from experience, it can be very difficult to leave it behind.

For example, when you enter a relationship, nobody is forthright that they are going to put a yoke on you to make you go their way.  Could you imagine what the leader did to convince the two oxen to wear it?  I suppose it would be something they desire, like food.  During the time that they are munching on the delicious food, the leader slips this yoke on.  It takes them by surprise as they later realize that they can no longer go the way they choose.  The oxen have been manipulated into slavery.  It is one of Satan’s tactics— to lead us off as salves.

Something we need to remember, though, despite all you may be going through, is Matthew 11:28-30 when Jesus tells us:

“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.”

So, when you accept Jesus as your personal Savior, you are allowing Jesus to remove the yoke that came from Satan, and now making available for you to TAKE his yoke upon you so that he can lead you out of bondage.  This is important to remember: the yoke you once had was forced upon you.  The yoke that Jesus offers is not forced but rather something you accept.

Something that I need to highlight here is that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is a God that wants you to be free from oppression.  That is what your yoke BEFORE JESUS is: OPPRESSION.  What God offers is RESURRECTION, as he resurrects the life you were always meant to have before Satan got his claws in you.  Let me say it again to be very clear:

SATAN equals OPPRESSION.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  —1 Peter 5:8 NIV

JESUS equals RESURRECTION.  (See webpage entitled How to Know Jesus)

It was Satan’s plan to keep me yoked to people and a life that kept me in slavery and from ever making something of myself.  But it was Jesus who offered a way to freedom.

Let go of the PAST, choose FREEDOM and live in peace with JESUS.

Go forth and be blessed my friend!


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What it means to me to be a Christian

Purple hydrangeas

What is a Christian, and what does that even mean?  Well, as a young girl, I was taught that being a Christian meant that you were being, or acting, Christ-like.  I made the decision to follow Jesus in October 2001 which means that at the time of this writing, I have been following him for nearly 18 years. Since I made the decision to become a Christian, I have learned a lot about the world and how it can affect me personally.  Over time, the true meaning of being a Christian is being lost, so I personally choose to call myself a “follower of Christ”.  To me, it is what best describes who we are as children of God.

In my time as a follower of Christ, I have heard so many comments and statements when people respond to this idea: What does it mean to be a Christian?  Some of those responses have been, “I don’t have the time to read an entire book to find out who God is”, “God is for weak people”, “God is a crutch”, and even “I don’t want to go to church, because it is full of hypocrites”.  I really don’t blame them for what they are saying, because, truly, they are answering the question to the best of their knowledge like anyone else would.  I have even had someone cuss me out in another language just because I gave them a pamphlet that explained who Jesus is.  This is the world we live in.  If you can think over the last week or so, how many times has someone responded to you in this way, maybe only because you are driving the speed limit, for example; it is how the world responds to something they don’t know or understand.

The speed of the world can cause us all to respond harshly to someone or even cause them to refuse to try to see God, because, to them, they just don’t have the time; or they respond in the same way someone else did – aren’t we all followers of someone or some-thing?  There are so many other reasons why people respond in these ways, and, truth be told, the origin is not from God.

In the Bible, we read many accounts of how people responded to Jesus.  There was Simon, called Peter, and Andrew who when Jesus said, “Come, follow me” they left their nets and followed him (Mt. 4:18-20 NIV), and there were many after them.  It was Jesus who said:

 

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  —John 8:12 NIV

So, what does being a “follower of Christ” mean to me?  It means that I am following truth and wisdom.  Jesus called himself “the truth” because God sent him into this world to bring the truth and to pay the penalty for our sin that separates us from God. He is the indisputable, actual existence of God in the flesh. I am reminded of four passages of scripture that speak of this:

 

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  —2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son [Jesus], that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.—John 3:16–17 NIV

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.—Romans 5:8 NIV

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  —John 15:13 NIV

Jesus was the purest example of all things true displaying honesty, integrity, humility, justice, and righteousness.

As we all follow someone, I prefer to follow Jesus, because He is as reliable as anything I have ever experienced.  I can count on him fully to be there for me as my Advocate.  He gave himself up for me, and every day I live with the wonderful benefits of being a follower of Christ.  I experience his love, his compassion, and his forgiveness every day.  He is the reason I know God, because He made the way for me.

So, I didn’t have to read the entire Bible to learn who God is, and, yes, God is for weak people, because, honestly, we all are weak.  While the Bible does not refer to anyone as a crutch, we should think of what a crutch really is – something to lean on.  We all at some point or another tried to demonstrate to those around us that we have it all together, but the truth of the matter is that none of us do.  We sincerely need the love of God to become better people; after all, He is our Creator.  Through him we learn to be what He intended which is a very good thing.

All it takes is reading a little bit of the Bible to find out who He is.  In the time it would take for you to watch a movie, you could possibly read the entire Book of John.  Let me invite you to do so, even if you too are a follower of Christ.  Every moment we spend with God is always profitable.  Bless you my friend.

 


When The One You Love Doesn't Love You Anymore

Do you want to know what inspires me to write?

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