The Yoke

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My Grandpa was a farmer.  The manual labor involved in preparing for the end product of a harvest is a monumental task.  When I was little, I went to stay with my grandparents for a few weeks in the summer.  One of the things I remember about that time was Grandma going out to the field and telling Grandpa how homesick I was and it was time to take me home.  That meant leaving the field with all the work that needed to be done and driving me from Minnesota to Vermont in order to take me home.  For a farmer, that was a huge sacrifice.  That is a very vivid memory for me that I have always cherished.

In the Bible, many different illustrations are used to assist us in understanding the principles that God wants us to live out in our daily lives.  One such illustration is the visual of a yoke.

 

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 gently 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).

 

The yoke here does not refer to a yoke used for oxen (as I had originally thought) rather it refers to a person coming under another person’s leadership and following in their footsteps.  Jesus was speaking here and telling those that would listen and those of us that read these words to “come.”  Jesus will not hog tie us and make us follow Him, rather we must come on our own accord.  The reason we are to come to Him is because the yoke we are carrying is heavy and causes us much labor.  The reference here is to the religious leaders who were making the people of the day carry the heavy burden of the law.  Following laws out of fear is a heavy burden. These religious leaders seemed perfect on the outside, but on the inside their hearts were dark with the deceitfulness of sin.

When we take on the yoke of Jesus we can learn from Him.  What do we learn from Him?  We learn “gentleness and humility.”  Living a life filled with gentleness and humility is a much easier and the yoke is much lighter to carry.

During the time that Jesus walked the earth, the religious leaders had added extra rules to the laws that were already given to make sure that the previously recorded rules were not inadvertently disobeyed.    To illustrate how extreme it had gotten the religious leaders had 39 sub categories under “Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy.”  Thirty-nine sub categories that helped define what work was and what work was not.  They were deceived into thinking that external perfection equaled holiness.

Jesus’ teaching was different.  He taught that it was not the externals that made the person holy rather it was what came from the heart.  What was in Jesus’ heart?  “Gentleness and lowliness.”

My grandpa was hard working.  My aunt calls it the legacy of the Lichtys.  Yet, when the rubber met the road, my grandpa was gentle and lowly.  As I started writing this, I was thinking about farming and these verses thinking that a yoke was a piece of farm equipment.  I remembered this story about my grandpa and wrote it down.  Then I went to study the meaning and history behind the yoke.  I never realized that the yoke here was not intended for oxen but rather a metaphor for discipleship.  A metaphor for following in the footsteps of a leader.  So Grandpa Lichty what you have taught me is to work hard, but do it with gentleness and humility remembering that what is important in the end is not the work, but the people.  This yoke is “easy, and this burden is light.”

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Repetition = Importance

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My Grandpa Lichty had a knack for telling stories.  He remembered an amazing amount of details and something always reminded him of a story.  The details he shared were so vivid that no one would ever dream of telling him maybe one of the facts was not true.  I remember listening to him telling story after story, but I do not remember the stories.  I can still hear his voice, but the stories have long since faded from my memory, which makes me very sad.  Even if all the details were incorrect, it would be so nice to share some of those stories with our daughters. What I can share about my Grandpa is his love for his family and his dedication to the Lord which I saw through his tireless service at the church.

Throughout Scripture, we are reminded “not to hide them (God’s Word) from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.” (Psalm 78:4).  I am amazed at how often God encourages us to talk about Him and His glorious deeds.  Repetition equals importance.  God reminds us frequently through different authors the importance of sharing what God has done or is doing in our lives.

“…You shall love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-7).  I often wonder what caused the corruption of complaining as the Israelites wandered in the desert after their miraculous escape from Egypt.  I wonder if the Israelites had been so busy talking to their children about the great things God had done for them while they sat around the campfires, walked on the pathway of sand, got up in the morning, ate their meals, went to bed at night…if they would have had time to complain about the myriad of things they found to be unhappy about.  When we rejoice over the goodness of God, the difficulties pale in comparison.  The joy in our hearts bubbles over with such gusto that complaining and negativity become unwelcome bedfellows.  The sound of our own voice complaining tastes like the bitterness of sour milk to our souls.

Why is it so important to talk at all time in all situations about what God has done?  “…Which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children so that they should set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.” (Psalm 78:5-7).  As we read the Old Testament this is seen repeatedly.  We see that those that forgot the works of God and did not share those great moments with their children were corrupted by sin.

As we marvel at the good things God has done in our lives, it serves a dual purpose.

First, our children hear us talk about the effect of God in our lives.  What God is teaching us.  How we are growing.  How God is convicting us of sin. How we are growing through the situations we are put in and how to practically apply the truths of scripture in our everyday lives.  It will be so much easier for them to follow the Lord on a daily basis if they see it lived out in front of them on a daily basis.

Second, it serves as a reminder to us about how God is working and has worked in our own lives.  I have a failing memory, and I think if we were all honest with ourselves we would all admit this is true. Yet, as we rehearse the goodness of God, the work of God in our lives, and the transformations that have taken place in our lives because of our walk with God; it would remind us no matter where we are, God is with us.

“And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (II Timothy 2:2).  It has often been repeated, “We are one generation away from apostasy.”  It is not for lack of churches, lack of Bibles, or lack of Christian literature.

Rather, it is for a lack of authenticity, lack of hypocrisy, and lack of intentionality.

So where do you fall?  It is not just our children we should be sharing with.  Barnabas shared with Paul. Paul shared with Timothy.  Are you sharing all the great things God has done? Or is your walk with God a ritual rather than a living, growing relationship with your Savior?  Maybe we can evaluate ourselves by our words.

“We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near.  We recount your wondrous deeds.” (Psalm 75:1).

So if I could eat some corn-on-the cob with Grandpa right now, I would share with him all the great things God has done in my life and in the lives of our daughters.  Would he feel his legacy of service and love for the Lord was carried on and the seeds he planted lived on to the fourth generation and then would he say as only Grandpa can say, “Well, Danna, let me tell you…”

WORK

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WORK-activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.

 

My Grandpa was a farmer.  Grandpa had milk cows and farmed acres of corn.  When he retired, he had a garden at his house, and helped us with the garden at our house.  Our garden was at least twice as big as his.  My dad is a building contractor and when Grandpa retired from farming he moved to Cedarville to be near us and help my dad at his various jobs.  He would pick up trash or pull weeds or paint.  Whatever “his hand found to do, he did it with all his might…” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).  My Grandpa worked for my dad until they had to take away his license, and then if someone would pick him up and take him to the job; he went and worked.  I remember coming home from school and Grandpa would be out picking weeds in our yard or garden.  I think he did this for a few reasons: he liked to work, he liked to serve, and he liked to be outside.

 

While in Florida for Christmas (2015), we helped my parents and sister (and her family) with the homes they are building.  During one of our conversations my dad, who is 68, told me, “I like to work.”  I wonder where he got that gene from.  I came home yesterday and found our daughter Denise, 17 years old, picking up sticks because we had a big wind storm over the week-end and are getting a big snow storm today.  I did not ask her to do this.  She reminds me of my Grandpa and Dad.  She loves to be outside and work with her hands.  Our other daughters are good workers too, but Denise has a special affinity to working outside.

 

Do young people today have an aversion to work, or is their view of work different than the older generations?  I think the answer is “yes” to both.  Many children growing up today, do not have to help around the house.  Yet, what is this establishing in a child’s mind if they grow up and do not have to work?  As a child, I did not like to weed the garden or mow the grass, but I did it anyway.  Today, I have a sense of satisfaction when a job gets completed, even if it is cleaning up the kitchen after ANOTHER meal.

 

Also, many today put work in a box.  We only do the work we have to, the minimum required.  Once, when I was teaching a preschool class at church, someone told me I did not have to put so much work into my lessons.  I was surprised by this statement.  I was always taught to do my best.  After all, my labor is for my Savior-He is my final Judge.

 

Many verses talk about work: 

Ecclesiastes 9:10 “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…”

II Thessalonians 3:10 “…If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”

Proverbs 18:9 “Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys.”

I Corinthians 10:31 “Whether therefore you eat or drink, do all to the glory of God.”

 

God does not tell us to only work for pay, rather He tells us to work with all our might for His glory so we are not destructive, otherwise we will or should not eat.  Whatever we do should be to His glory, not matter what job it is.  Whether it’s cleaning toilets, cleaning up after the dog, shoveling snow, or weeding, we are to do all for the glory of God.

Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might to the glory of God!

An Unexpected Check on Mom’s Bucket List

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Sometimes the unexpected ends up being more beneficial and helpful than the expected, planned, or anticipated. We have all had experiences like this. Can you think of one or two right now? How about the unexpected gift of flowers that arrives at your door one day, or an unexpected visitor that leaves you filled with more joy than you had before they arrived, or an unexpected hug and thank-you from your children over something you thought was inconsequential and insignificant? We have all experienced something like this and so many times those unexpected things or events are some of our most treasured memories.

As you know I am trying to make sure my girls know all I think they need to know before they are on their own. I call this my “bucket list.” This week they were able to do something that I hadn’t even put on my list, let alone ever thought of putting on “the list.” My parents were here last week-end for Easter. We had a great time playing games together, going for walks, going out for dinner, and preparing for our Easter lunch. We had a great time together. My Dad is a building contractor and can fix anything or figure anything out. We have had an electrical problem for years at our house and we asked him to fix it while he was here. After some time of questioning and investigating, he figured out the problem. Now mind you the electrical at our house has no rhyme or reason to it. If we turn off a breaker the lights in the basement may go out along with the lights in the second story bathroom. Needless to say this was an easy fix once the investigation was complete.

On Monday we went to Lowes to get a few supplies for this electrical project and we also bought a new gas grill. My Dad told my sweet daughters to put the grill together themselves and if they had a problem, he would help them. He wanted them to do it together, but by themselves. Danielle was in charge so there were lessons on leadership and lessons on submission by all involved. They tackled the project with much enthusiasm and organization. They got everything out of the box and organized it. Then they began with step one of the directions and started reading, finding the parts, assembling each part with meticulous detail. As I worked on other projects around the house, I cherished every moment of hearing them work together with great unity and effectiveness. When they needed help they called Grandpa. They didn’t need him till the end of the project when one of the fittings was not made properly so a bit of adjustment was needed. The grill works perfectly, and even though it is still winter here in Michigan we have used our new grill.

My sweet girls, you did a great job learning together, working together, and communicating together; and now every time that you the grill is used you can remember the fun and learning that can be had when you work together. Check…putting together a grill for Mom’s bucket list. Now on to one of our next things to learn…how to use the grill. That will be another time.