As we enter into this new year let us seek His yoke in terms of our own individual purpose and calling. If we have asked Jesus to bind us to His purpose and to loose us from the snares and plans of the enemy then what is that doing in our lives? I started this short series with the verses below.
28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:28-29 (NKJV)
When I look at these verses it seems that in verse 29 Jesus is reinforcing what He said in verse 28. We come to Him, He provides rest. Coming to Him means voluntarily placing His yoke upon ourselves. In essence this is an expansion of His brief call, “Follow Me.” I recently shared a joke I saw a few years ago. Jesus was sitting on a park bench with a young man and the caption was Jesus saying, “No I don’t mean Twitter. I actually want you to follow Me.”
Have we heard that call? Once we respond we find that His yoke begins to shape our lives. We find ourselves laying down some things and picking up others. All in the course of following ‘The Lamb who was slain.”
This shaping process begins to unveil our calling and purpose. Very few of us will have a blinding light like Paul on the road to Damascus, or Mary having Gabriel appear and speak to her. Many of us may not even have prophetic dreams. Yet as we positon our hearts before Him in the place of humility we will hear His voice in our hearts. It may be a sense of direction or purpose, it may be a scripture verse or passage that comes alive to us, yet whatever it is faith will be required. Generally what we are called to will look different than what we expect.
I am now quite comfortable speaking before large or small groups. Yet even though I had a sense of a desire to teach while in high school I don’t recall connecting the dots that it meant speaking in front of groups of people! Strange but true. I had a desire to teach but no desire to be in front of groups of people. My point being that something in me was responding to my calling but later in life it meant taking risks and stepping out in faith to actually do it. I remember my first sermon, with no practice ones, in front of a small group and my next one in front of three to four hundred people. I remember how I felt, anxiety being the key descriptor.
Yet following Jesus meant doing something in spite of how I felt, not because of it. When I started writing teaching in the 90’s I don’t think I was that good. My writing has improved a great deal over the years. Not through some magical download, but through hard work, getting feedback on my writing, some of it painful to receive, and making changes. Much of this has taken place in the context of my work. Jesus using my job to deepen my gifts for ministry.
In the end, whatever our gifts and calling are, Jesus wants to reveal some aspect of Himself through us. Seeing it happen means cooperating with Him to develop our gifts.