“Take my yoke and put it on you, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest. For the yoke I will give you is easy, and the load I will put on you is light” (Matthew 11:27-30 TEV)
Expectations are a yoke. Some of you are carrying a yoke—a heavy burden—of the expectations that were put on you by your parents, or your husband, or your wife, or your children. Some of you are burdened down with a yoke put on you by your boss or by your teacher.
But most of us carry a yoke of burden that we've put on ourselves because of unresolved guilt and unrealistic expectations. We're trying to prove that we matter.
We take on a heavy yoke that God never intended in order to prove that we’re important when God says we’re already important: He created us to be with him and to fulfill a unique mission in life. That makes us important, not all the things we do (or don’t do).
God’s yoke is that we follow his purpose for our lives, and when we do that, things work out a whole lot better. When we go our own way in life, we hit one brick wall after another. In a sense, God says, “Put on my purpose, my plan for your life.”
How heavy is God's yoke? Jesus says, “The yoke I will give you is light and easy.” You say, “But my Christian life isn't easy. My Christian life is heavy; it’s like a duty that I have to fulfill.”
Then it may be you are out of God's will. You may be doing something that God never intended for you to do. I can’t say it any plainer than this: It may be some of the things you think God is asking you to do, He's not asking you to do. Your conscious and your perfectionism are asking you to do them.
Jesus did not come to give you a burden but a blessing.
Am I saying the Christian life has no problems? No, not at all! We all will have a lot of problems. The Christian life is full of difficulties. The point is this: to live in the center of God's will is a lighter load than to live out of God's will. To live in God's purpose and plan for your life is a lighter, more relaxing, more enjoyable load than for you to live your own life any old way you choose.
If you say, “My Christian life is a burden right now,” then there are some things in your life that you're doing that God never intended for you to do. One of the things you need to do is get quiet before God and ask, “What do I need to cut out of my life?” I need to focus on the things that really count—my relationship to God, my relationship to my family, my relationship to other Christians, my relationship to the world. That's what counts.
Jesus says, “Come to me all of you who are tired from carrying your heavy loads and I will give you rest.” The answer to your stress is not a bunch of principles. The answer to your stress is a relationship to a person: Jesus Christ. “Come to Me. I will give you deep, abiding, gut level rest.” It's a personal invitation.
Are you living under condemnation? If you are, Jesus says, “Come to me . . . and I will give you rest.” In a sense, this is what Jesus is saying: “Why don't we do this . . . why don't we take that heavy yoke of guilt that you're carrying, take it off and put it down over here. Instead, let me put on you my light yoke of grace. Get rid of the guilt and let's replace it with grace. You see how much better this fits; how much more comfortable it is?"
Take off this yoke of perfectionism, where you're always trying to prove yourself and toss it over to be burned. Put on the yoke of God’s plan for your life; his purpose.
When you do that, your confidence will soar.