The principle or doctrine of a covenant relationship between God and mankind is practiced in various religions. It is a powerful concept that teaches that when a person engages in this alliance or agreement with God (you keep your end of the deal), you will be blessed, protected, and empowered depending on the covenant agreement (God keeps his end of the deal).
The Almighty, He who keeps each universe in the heavens, and every atom of this earth in its place, has agreed to support us in our endeavors. That’s phenomenal! That’s incomprehensible! That’s humbling. It also means that we truly can, with His help, tackle the difficulties of life.
In Matthew 11 of the Bible, there is a really excellent illustration of this concept when Christ invites us to take His yoke upon us. But what exactly is the yoke? Is it sacrifice? Is it giving service? Is it charity, or purity or honesty? It is all of those things, because all of those things help us come closer to Him. All of those things take part in creating a relationship with Him.
I was talking with a group of friends about the concept of the yoke and this visual came to mind: As I walk the path of life, I hold the burdens of life in my arms. They are wearisome and awkward; they are of varying sizes and shapes, and can sometimes distract me from my direction on the path. Then I hear and heed the invitation and attempt to put on the yoke with Christ… the kind that a team of oxen would share. But the added weight is too much with my arms already full – unless I were to throw the burdens I carry into the wagon behind me. Those trials are still in my care and stewardship, they are still mine to carry, but now I can share the weight of those burdens with Him! I can focus on the yoke, on my relationship with Him and how I can serve and be more like Him.
It is also in this kind of relationship that He can help me see which things I need to leave behind all together. Sometimes we pick up burdens that were never ours to carry. Sometimes they are burdens we’ve had for so long that we’re unaware that they are there at all. And, most painfully, some burdens are a deep part of our identity and we still need to let them go. It’s those times that I imagine myself limply hanging over the yoke as He carries me down the path until I can heal enough to walk again. But this kind of relationship is like that. He’s that kind of friend and mentor.
(Photo of feather)
In this alliance with God, we have access to share the burdens of life with a power as big as the universe and as detailed as the atoms of the earth. By focusing on service, love, charity, purity… all the ways that He invited us to walk with Him, we can truly overcome what we must in this life. When put in the context of a covenant relationship, all of those familiar phrases seem to take on a new light: “Sometimes God doesn’t calm the storm, but instead calms the sailor.” “Strengthened in our weakness.” “Strength beyond our own.” I invite you to enter into the kind of relationship with God that is empowering and strengthening. For with that kind of faith, you are sure to overcome.
How interesting that I have been compelled to face this exact lesson repeatedly over this entire month. Some days I fly through the challenges; some days I feel drug through the sticky clay sucking at my legs. But every time I remember to look, He’s there, infinitely patient on His side of the yoke.