Releasing the Yoke
When the Bible makes reference to a "yoke" it is referring to a heavy piece of wood shaped to fit around the neck and fasten to a pole. It was primarily used to tie oxen together (usually two); the older ox had its yoke and the younger had its yoke. But the younger ox's yoke was bigger and stronger because it was developed so that the older ox could guide the younger.
In the Bible "yoke" is used most often metaphorically to designate a burden, slavery, or obligation. In other words, yoke means any attitude, habit, lifestyle, and way of thinking that keeps you from living in the freedom God wants you to live.
Thus, if you have low self esteem - you may not have ever seen a yoke, but you are wearing one. If you self-loathe, if you despise your ethnicity, if you find yourself in financial bondage because you are addicted to spending, you are wearing a yoke. All cocaine, marijuana, heroin, nicotine, caffeine, is a yoke. Everybody in life has to fight and deal with the yokes that society and self tries to put on us. Racism, sexism, and classism are all yokes.
We all encounter people with the yoke of bad attitudes, yoke of gossip, backstabbing and backbiting yokes. People wear yokes of bad relationships and yokes of ignorance.
God gives us an alternative. We do not have to live under the oppression; live with a yoke around our necks. God offers us an alternative lifestyle. It is joy and blessings and help when you need it. If you have ever had your yoke broken, you know that He gives you a new attitude, a new way of walking and a new way of talking. He gives you an 800 number so you can call Him at anytime and at any place. He gives you an alternative to sadness and helplessness.
So the question is how do we break the yoke? Well, God has instilled in us the power to break free from our yokes. You already have the power and the strength to break the yoke that is weighing you down. It doesn't matter what kind of yoke it is - you can break free of it. It may be a yoke of a bad childhood that continues to plague you. It may be the lingering effects of a bad marriage. It may be your tendency to enslave yourself with negativism. It may be your fears and nervous anxieties about the future. Whatever the yoke, you can break it because God has supplied you with what you need. Access it and be free!
Rev. Saundra L. Washington, D.D., is an ordained clergywoman, veteran social worker, and Founder of AMEN Ministries. http://www.clergyservices4u.org. She is also the author of two coffee table books: Room Beneath the Snow: Poems that Preach and Negative Disturbances: Homilies that Teach. Her new book, Out of Deep Waters: My Grief Management Workbook, will be available in July.
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