Many of you, you have probably already set some plans in place, for your health and finances, and for your mental and spiritual life. You are ready to be done with what this decade has brought so far and ready to see a new chapter begin.
You are ready for the next leg of the journey, for the next leg of the race. As a triathlete, the race doesn’t end when the swim portion ends, although some might only take part in that piece of the race.
And it doesn’t end when the bike portion is over, although some might just do the aqua bike and be finished. The race has three parts, and you need to complete them all to finish.
Many people see New Year’s day as a day to begin the next leg of the race. It is now January 2nd, and hopefully you haven’t given up yet.
There are many who will focus on physical and financial health, and if you have needs in those areas, you are welcome to connect with me. But this is church, and hopefully those of you whoare here are hoping for more of Jesus in 2022, or what we are going to call “More of You in 2022.”
I want to focus on our spiritual life.
And for most people, life isn’t a speed race. It isn’t a sprint — it is a Ironman… it is a marathon. So we are going to look at what we need to do to make sure that we keep moving in the right direction in 2022 as we focus on More of You in 2022.
And I want us to think of running this race in 2022 as a three-legged race. How many of you have ever taken part in a three-legged race?
In order to run a three-legged race, you start by being tied at the leg, usually the ankle, to another person. You go up to the line, and then when someone yells go, you go. Sounds easy, huh? In reality, it is much harder to do.
In a three-legged race, someone has to take the lead, and you practice moving together. You move your legs at the same time, but the opposite legs move together.
You also need to take similar size steps, and move at the same time. One of the fun parts of watching people in the three-legged race is watching them try to run and eventually fall because they are either not synchronized, or because they are not taking similar size steps.
What if we thought of our faith-walk, or spiritual journey, as a three-legged race? There are two aspects to this. One is our walk with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. The other is our walk with one another.
And as we look at this concept, I would like us to think about what Jesus says in Matthew 28:18-20…
“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.”Matthew 11:28-30 NIV
This is a passage that is relied on by those who are grieving or struggling. For many, it is read as come to Jesus and He will give you rest, and He (Jesus) is gentle and humble, and He will not burden you and things will be easier for you (all of which are true).
But there is a term that we must understand to fully understand this passage properly. The term “yoke” is probably hard for us to understand unless we have an Amish background, because even modern agriculture doesn’t use yokes much since there are tractors.
A yoke is a device that is put on a couple of animals, typically cows or horses, that distributes a workload. In his book, “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry,” John Mark Comer points out that a yoke is how you shoulder a load.
It is a work term. Back when yokes were used, they would yoke two similar animals together to get work done. It is a way to go about doing the work — work that needs to be done.
When Jesus calls us to take His yoke upon us, the call is to do the work He has called us to do. He calls us to “take my yoke upon you and learn from me.”
When we come to Him, and work alongside Him, partnered by the Holy Spirit, learning from Him what He needs us to know, we will find rest. Notice Jesus mentions rest twice (read verses 28-29 again).
His yoke is easy and His burden is light, and He brings rest, but it is by being yoked to Him. It is by being yoked to Jesus through the Holy Spirit.
And the closer we get to Him, the easier and more restful things will be. In this, we are speaking about our souls. There will still be challenges in life, but they will be easier. It is easier to rest when we are yoked to Him, doing all that He created and called us to be.
And how do we do this? How is this possible?
It is not just by the Holy Spirit’s guidance, but by being “yoked” to Him. We are called to be running this race as a three-legged race.
It means to go at His pace, not ahead of him and not lagging behind. If we are yoked to Him, then we can’t help but be in His will, because He is leading and guiding us.
We need to be “yoked” to Jesus through the Holy Spirit. And if we are “yoked” through the Holy Spirit, also we need to understand that this shouldn’t be just for Sunday mornings.
We are to be “yoked together” until the work is done.
Let’s try to run this race of 2022 “yoked” to Jesus by the Holy Spirit. Let’s tie our leg to His, and move when He moves, at His pace, and stay when He stays. Let’s have our race be a thing of beauty as we run with Him this year.