Thank you so much to those of you who pray on our behalf. We are blessed to have a huge group of prayer amigos who not only love us but are so faithful in their prayer support. Thank you.
As most of you know, we're on stateside assignment here in Mississippi. Stateside assignment is a time of reconnecting and renewal that Southern Baptists provide their missionaries who are employed through the International Mission Board. We have enjoyed our time 'off the international mission field' very much. I think we were much more spiritually drained and in need of some relief than we realized. It's not that missionary work is any more difficult than any other ministry assignment. But, when you combine a God-sized task, done in a different culture, with some serious opposition by the Enemy, things can wear you down. If we had not had the support of a tremendous team and friends while serving in South America, we're not sure if we could have survived as happy campers.
This week I (Jeff) have been studying the words of Christ in Matthew 11, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you find rest for your souls."
Yielding to a yoke of any kind is not in our nature, is it? However, everyone who has breath has yielded to a 'yoke' of some kind. The 'yoke' of sin comes in a variety of weights: materialism, legalism, individualism. But, the yoke of Jesus is 'easy and the burden is light.' When the Enemy tries to convince you that the yoke of Jesus is too heavy or too restrictive take a look at the yoke you are currently yielded to. How's that workin' for ya? Are the things you are pursuing in your life eternal? Is your life 'abundant'? (John 10:10) If I am not careful I discretely slip out of Jesus' yoke and replace it with the yoke of independence and self-management. Do you do that?
When I have tried to obey Jesus without first depending on Him through faith, I have found that His yoke just will not fit. I call it the 'BIG HEAD' problem. You've heard the comment, 'He's got the big head.' Obviously it means that someone thinks they're more important than they really are. They think they know it all. If I think I know it all, have it all together, can do life on my own, then that is not faith in Jesus. That is faith in me. Idolatry. Worshiping my abilities. Recipe for disaster. The yoke of Jesus comes off much easier than it goes on.
Missionaries are prone to slipping out of Jesus' yoke. Everybody is telling us how great we are. Everybody is telling us we're their heroes. Everybody is putting their stamp of approval on our lives. It's almost as if I'm an athlete playing for an SEC Football School except the score is not broadcast every Saturday night on Sportscenter. I have more Romans 7:15 days than Matthew 25:34 days. The reason is because Jesus doesn't clamp his yoke around my neck tightly. It's my choice to follow Him.
Our Savior is a Teacher, not a taskmaster. The Enemy wants me to believe that God is a taskmaster and that God wants to see how much of a burden I can bear. However, Jesus is my burden bearer. He's my freedom giver. The yoke of Jesus is a life-giving promise. Only He is sufficient. I am most free when I am most submitted to Him.