In the Midwestern United States, tractor pulls are a popular form of entertainment.
An older form of pulling competition involved work animals. Horses and Oxen were fitted with a yolk; a device that fits over the head and shoulders of the animal. The yolk was connected to a harness, and the harness was connected to large sled.
The track was a straight course with men lined-up on both sides. As the animal pulled the sled down the track, men would step-on until the sled became too heavy for the animal to pull.
As the sled got heavier, you could see the animal working harder and its hooves digging deeper into the ground. The animal that pulled the most weight the farthest won the competition.
As we go through life, it is as if we are pulling a sled. At first, we don’t even realize we are pulling it, because for most of us, the sled is light.
As we continue our journey of life, other people and events place weight on our sled. Failed plans, unfulfilled dreams, broken promises, tragedy, illness, and any of thousands of events, some positive and some negative, add weight.
Sometimes the addition of weight is so subtle that we may not notice. Other times, it feels like a thousand tons was placed on our shoulders. Mostly we dig deeper, but sometimes we are left motionless, unable to bear the weight. It can seem like we will never be able to pull again.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yolk upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yolk is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, NRSV).
Imagine taking your heavy yolk and the sled you have been dragging and giving it to Jesus. There is no weight too difficult for Him to bear.
Have you been burdened with negative feelings about yourself? Give it to Jesus. Have you been betrayed and beaten-up? Give it to Jesus. Are you living under a cloud of darkness? Give it to Jesus.
Are you living in fear and doubt? Give it to Jesus. And what will He give you in return? A yolk that is easy and light. That is the yolk of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. (See Galatians 5:19-25).
There is no reason to bear the yolk of this life by yourself. You are loved and valued by the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. You have been adopted into the Kingdom of God, and are an heir to that Kingdom. You are worth more than silver and gold. Your sled may be heavy, but you can let it go with the help of the Lord. Isn’t it time to take that step?
Blessings and Peace,
Rev. Dr. David Bridges is the pastor at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Grove. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.