The Unforced Rhythms Of Grace
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)
The yoke was a wooden frame used to harness two animals together in such a way that the maximum pulling power of each could be exerted. By choosing the metaphor of a yoke, Jesus is acknowledging that a yoke, in fact, does exist when we come into relationship with Him. In Jesus' day it was understood that "taking up one's yoke" was used of studying with a rabbi. Jesus is clearly instructing us to "take my yoke upon you" meaning I am to become His student and make it my lifelong task is to "learn from Him."
One practical application of this metaphor is the concept that the stronger, more experienced animal would always get the "heavy" end of the pulling. In this sense Jesus' yoke is light because He always takes the "heavy" end. The yoke Jesus' places on us, that is, His teachings, are the "light" end not simply because He requires LESS but because He gives MORE.
He assures me of rest and peace as a child of His Kingdom and He has provided the very present help of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit surges through my life, constantly bathing me in "unforced rhythms of grace." The Message version adds this beautiful phrase to the text to help me understand more perfectly the blessing of bearing the "light" end of the yoke.
Here is how this phrase can be broken down:
unforced - produced with no effort, exertion or pressure
rhythms - a movement or fluctuation marked by regular recurrence
grace - God's disposition to act with kindness or clemency toward me
When I read these words, I relax and take a deep breath. I choose once again to shed the laborious self-effort that keeps creeping into my walk with God and embrace the never-ending supply of grace flowing from the Father to me, over me, through me.