I’m 8 weeks post birth and I’ve found the baby weight to be getting me down. I expressed this in detail on instagram a couple of nights ago and the encouraging responses I received were overwhelming, thank you. There were a few though that stood out, particularly one from my best friend, Ellen, reminding me of what I need to let go of and how I can find rest and satisfaction in life. I want to share with you what God has taught me through this timely reminder (plus some photos from Floriade!).
Ellen shared these Bible verses with me:
“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.” Matthew 11: 28-30.
I love these verses, so I really tried to meditate (focus, ponder) on them the last couple of days to understand what Jesus meant and what he was offering when he said this and then how I could take it on to help reduce the pressure I was putting on myself to get rid of my baby weight. Here’s what I learnt:
1. Humans have been trying to find happiness by following legalistic standards for a long time and it has been found to be difficult and burdensome, time and time again.
In this passage, Jesus is talking to the crowds at Galilee. These people were led by the Pharisees. The Pharisees became very selective and legalistic in their implementation of the scripture. Their legalism came in the form of very detailed ‘do’s’, ‘don’ts’ and traditions they created. These rules became so detailed that it was very hard for the people to live up to – they found it burdensome (see Matthew 23:4). This is what Jesus was referring to when he said ‘come to me all you who are weary and burdened’.
We can apply Jesus’ teaching here to our lives by looking at some of the expectations, standards and ‘rules’ we place on ourselves (often encouraged by society). For me, this is seen in how I expect my body ‘must’ look; what I ‘should and shouldn’t’ be eating; and how much I should be exercising. You might find your high and unrelenting expectations in work or study standards, or the type of house/car/phone/clothes/friends/food/money we expect. How much pressure (conscious or subconscious) is on us to attain these standards? It certainly left me feeling weary and burdened this week.
2. God tells us to let go and rest in him
“Come to me…and I will give you rest.”(v28) Now that’s a commandment that I WANT to follow. This pressure around what my body should be post baby is too much right now. I need to come to God.
3. God promises to teach us and walk with us
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me…” (v29)
A yoke is a wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to the plough or cart that they are to pull. I’ve been told when training these animals a larger oxen would be put with the smaller one to lighten it’s load and teach it how to work. Knowing this (the crowd Jesus spoke to would have) helps me to envisage the way God comes along side as the bigger Ox to train us and teach us in the way we should live. We are the small Ox and if we follow the big Ox we will find the work (our lives) easier because we will be letting the bigger Ox take the load. However, if as the small Ox we pull in the opposite direction to where the big Ox leads, we will find the work (our lives) very difficult and burdensome.
This is what I love about God, he teaches us in the way we should go and he never leaves us or gives up on us (Deuteronomy 31:6) – despite how much we fail to honour and obey him.
4. How can God’s commandments be any less burdensome than those rules we place on ourselves?
“for my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (v 30)
Jesus burden referred to here is his commandments / the way the big ox wants to walk. His commandments are made easy to follow by the help he provides. That help is the Holy Spirit, God’s spirit that lives in us when we accept Jesus as our Lord. If I know anything from my lack of ability to follow certain ‘simple’ rules I place on myself (eg. exercise daily for 40 minutes), I know that to follow God’s commands I will be needing His supernatural help! How gracious and loving is God that he would even enable us (as undeserving people that constantly reject their creator & his ways) to obey him!
Since pondering these verses and understanding their meaning I am feeling far more rested. This little ox has had her load lifted from her shoulders. I’m thankful that God used Ellen to ‘re-harness’ me to his side. I’m not perfect and I’ll likely return to my harsh judgments about my body as soon as I drift from God’s side. I pray that God will continue to put people in my life that point me to Him and that His holy spirit will convict my heart when I am straying from Him.
What burdens do you carry? Have you found rest by letting the big ox carry the load?