Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Yoked

This past Easter Sunday, I was asked to speak in church (thank you, in advance, for your condolences, LOL)!

After lots of studying...and praying my GUTS out to understand what it was I was suppose to share...I felt prompted to focus on the Savior's invitation, "Come Unto Me," and to share a very personal experience I had with being "yoked" to the Savior.

After my talk, I was asked by a member of my ward if I could put it in writing so that they could share it with someone. To be honest, I get so nervous at the pulpit, when I speak, that I'm not quite sure what actually comes out of my mouth! But I will try to recapture some of what I said, here, and put the blubbering emotions I shared at the pulpit, into organized words.

The night before my talk,  I was running some thoughts past my hubby about how we actually "come unto Christ" and he asked me a really good question.

He asked, "What do you think Christ MEANS when he says, "come unto me."?"
(Grammar Side Note: For all you English gu-roos out there, I have NO IDEA how to punctuate a quote within a quote. Nor do I know how to spell "gu-roos." Gurus?!?! Okay, moving on.)

Naturally, I had a SLEW of ideas as to what I think the Savior means when he says "come unto me" and how each of us can put that invitation into action and actually come unto Christ.

He listened.

He liked my ideas.

(Or at least I THINK he liked my ideas. He's smart enough to tell me that the clothes that really DO make my bottom look big, don't. And that my hair, on bad hair days, looks just fine. So, it's hard to say if he was telling the truth, or just...being smart.)

Then the hub shared with me HIS thoughts as to what he thinks the Savior means when he says, "come unto me." He thinks the Savior is saying, "come and partake of my atonement"; that He is inviting us to come and actually USE his atonement in our daily lives.

I felt the spirit as he shared his insights with me and it was just what I needed to pull all of my thoughts together. (I knew I kept him around for a reason, wink!)

As I was thinking about his words, my mind went to, probably the most popular "come unto me" verse found in the scriptures, Matthew 11:28-30,



So comforting, right?!  Filled with power.  Filled with hope.

I mean, who DOESN'T get weighed down with life from time to time, and would give ANYTHING to find rest.  

Keeping my husband's comment in mind, I was curious to see what would happen, if I substituted the word "yoke" for "atonement".

It would read something like this,

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
"Take my [atonement] upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: 
and ye shall find rest unto your souls."
"For [with my atonement it] is easy, and [the] burden is light."

I REALLY liked that.

And I really LOVE that the Lord uses the analogy of a YOKE, to describe the enabling and strengthening power of His ATONEMENT.

We all know that a "yoke" is a wooden beam, usually used between a pair of oxen, that enables the oxen to pull together on a heavy load.  The animals pull, side by side, and the yoke helps to evenly distribute the weight of the load, between the two.

Now, I grew up in N.Y...in the 1980's (not to be confused with the 1880's....ehem...Ashley!!) So obviously, I didn't have a lot of exposure to oxen and yokes. I just assumed that ALL yokes, were DOUBLE yokes...built for two animals, like so...




But it was interesting to learn that in addition to double yokes, there are also single yokes as well, fitted for just ONE animal...




As I was thinking about the two kinds of yokes, my thoughts turned to an experience I had, almost nine years ago, when I found myself yoked to a heavy load.  

I was expecting our 2nd baby and was about four months along.  Everything was going great.  Since I had already passed "the danger zone" (aka, the 3 month mark), my husband and I were excited to share the good news with all of our friends and family!  

Well, wouldn't you know, just a few days after we had told everyone that we were expecting, I started having some bleeding.

Not good.

I ran to my doctor and an ultrasound confirmed the worst...the baby had died.  The doctor advised that my body was preparing to get rid of the fetus. I was suppose to go home and let nature take it's course. (And if nature did not take it's course by the end of the week, I was suppose to come in that following Monday for a D&C.)

Needless to say, I was heart broken. Emotional. And knowing the baby's condition, the thought of having to just sit around and wait for my body to dispose of it, seemed almost cruel.  But the thought of having to go in for a D&C on Monday was equally frightening.  

Sunday night rolled around and it was clear that nature was starting to take it's course.  I tried to tough it out as best I could, but after several hours of severe cramping, I finally asked my husband to call the doctor and see if he could get me something for the pain.  

The closest pharmacy, open on a Sunday night, was a 30 minute drive away.  So my husband packed up my two year old and hopped in the car to retrieve the medicine.  

Shortly after he left, the physical and emotional pain intensified.

I was afraid.  And I was alone.

I kept thinking that I just had to grit my teeth and bare it. What other choice did I have?

Finally, I reached a point where the physical pain was unbearable.  Which, consequently, made the emotional pain unbearable.  

As the silent, helpless tears rolled down my cheeks, the Lyrics of a song I knew came into my mind,

"There's no place you can go, that He hasn't been below."

It was like the spirit was reminding me, "Why are you pulling this heavy load in a SINGLE yoke, all by yourself, when the Savior, who has already suffered this for you, is ready and willing to help you pull.  Yoke up with Him.  You do not have to pull this alone."

I offered a prayer to my Heavenly Father, and told him that I was alone.  And I was afraid.  I told him the pain was too much for me to bear, and that I needed help pulling this load. I asked for the comfort, peace, and enabling power of the atonement.

As childish as it sounds, I closed my eyes and imagined myself stepping out of a SINGLE yoke, and stepping into a DOUBLE yoke.  His yoke. I pictured myself side by side with the Savior. Pulling with Him.

And as soon as I did this, it was as if someone had taken a knife and cut the heavy load in HALF. 

I kid you not. 

I could scarcely believe it.  The relief was instantaneous.  It was real.  

The trial wasn't gone; I still had to pull the load.  But now I only had to pull HALF of it.  And what was unbearable, just moments before, was now bearable.  

I could not stop the tears of gratitude and relief from overflowing.  I was not alone after all.  

I LOVED LOVED LOVED Elder Bednar's talk, "Bear Up Their Burden's With Ease", from this past General Conference, where he talked about hauling loads.  If you haven't heard it, it's a MUST read!!! 

We know that here on earth, ALL of us will have to pull loads.  It's an essential part of God's plan for us to learn and grow and become like Him.  But I believe that before we came to earth, God (in his infinite goodness) prepared us for the loads that we would have to pull.  And I believe we were instructed on HOW to pull them.  

God knew we would have two choices....the SINGLE yoke (where we could go it alone)....or the DOUBLE yoke (where we could pull with the Savior).  We were instructed to pull with the Savior, "for his yoke is easy and his burden is light."  

The adversary will try his best to pitch us the single yoke.  He WANTS us to curse God for our heavy loads and go it alone.  The Savior, on the other hand, is pleading with us over and over and over again to, "come unto me and take my yoke upon you."

In his talk noted above, Elder Bednar says,

"...the Savior is beckoning us to rely upon, and pull together with Him, even though our best efforts are not equal to and cannot be compared with His. As we trust in and pull our load with Him during the journey of mortality, truly His yoke is easy and His burden is light...We are not and never need be alone. We can press forward in our daily lives with heavenly help. Through the Savior's Atonement we can receive capacity and strength beyond our own."

A few years after my miscarriage, I wrote a song about my experience and the prayer I offered in the midst of that trial, "Cradle Me with Peace."



And a few years after THAT, I felt the pressing need to write a song that answered that plea; that bore witness of the help that came that night. I entitled the answer, "He's There."


I bear testimony that we are not suppose to pull our loads alone.  I bear testimony that the Savior really LIVES and that His invitation to "come unto me" is REAL.  Because of his infinite atonement, He stands ready to ease our burdens and lighten our loads, whatever they may be.  He's there. We only need to yoke ourselves to Him.  

I am forever grateful for God's plan, for Christ's atonement, and for the opportunity I have everyday, to come unto Him, and be yoked.

Barbara

3 comments:

  1. What beautiful thoughts, Barb. I wish I had been there to hear you give it in person. Of course, the pictures and music are fun too:).

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  2. Thanks for sharing Barbara! My heart is always lifted after I read or listen to anything you write.

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  3. I love this message. I am always inspired by you.

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