Take My Yoke

Featured, Nonfiction

Written by Peter Boven

June 2, 2020

Some years ago, I asked my father what was his favourite scripture in the Bible. I didn’t know what to expect as an answer from him. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he had somehow gently dismissed my question. At the time I was trying to connect with a man who was very quiet, didn’t initiate conversations, and didn’t make a long talk about something if a short answer would be enough. But he was my father, and I loved him. He had attended church all his life and he, with Mom, had instilled faith in us. And I really had no idea if he would have an answer for me in my question of a specific favourite scripture.

But he did.

And he didn’t hesitate in sharing it with me.

It was Matthew 11:28-30.

“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.”

When he told me what it was and quoted it, I grew quiet. His answer felt supremely appropriate to me.

When I considered my father, I saw a man who had laboured so many years on the farms of his lifetime. In Holland, as the eldest son on the family ‘boerderij’. And in Canada on, first, a dairy and then his pig farm. Endured painful hip operations. Arthritis that deformed his hands and inflicted more pain to his back. I saw him come in from the barn, wearing dust and sweat, weary from his work. I also saw a man who did not complain. Not about the pain or the work or the circumstances. He bore his ‘cross’ with dignity and poise. He had a quiet faith.

I can imagine him listening to Jesus and hearing his invitation and looking forward to the rest that Jesus promised. And I thought  if anyone was ‘weary and burdened’, it was my dad. And if anyone deserved the rest and relief from pain that was promised, it was Dad.

His answer prompted me to think more deeply about this passage of scripture. I love these verses also because Jesus’ invitation is for all of us. I love that he can honestly describe himself as gentle and humble. This helps me to have confidence in approaching him. I like that he invites me to learn from him something that he has already been doing, so he doesn’t ask me to do anything that he is not willing to do first. I marvel at how he can say that his yoke is easy and burden light… because when I think of Jesus’ life, I picture a challenging and difficult life. But perhaps his life was made ‘easy’ and ‘light’ because of his submission to God, who helps us to be content in any circumstance. Here, also, he calls us to the same life, same mission, same effort, same determination, as he had. And then that feels so challenging again! But once more I go back to his promises and his gentleness, humility, the rest he offers, his easy yoke and light burden… and I choose to trust him. To accept the invitation. To go to Jesus.

I pray that I will continue to go.

Peter was raised on a farm in rural South-Western Ontario. He now lives and works in Toronto and shares a home with his wife and two adult children. In his youth Peter discovered deep satisfaction in expressing himself through writing, but many years had passed with only limited output before Jack Pontes invited him to be a part of Inspired Writers a few years ago. He is now working on a book of short stories and memories drawn from his 50-plus years of life.

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