Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Yokes We Choose

I had a unexpected stay at the hospital this week following a Sunday that felt like someone had kicked me in the gut and then hung around to squeeze my stomach with endless rhythm. The doctors, nurses and technicians cared for me with great care. They dispensed relaxing pain medicine while they looked for gall stones, kidney stones and anything else that seemed amiss on my insides. The doctor decided to treat me for stomach acid and a possible infection. Thanks to all that good care and a restful private room with a view out towards the Virginia Piedmont, I returned home feeling much better. So today I went to the office to get some things done. Within a couple hours the mysterious ghost had a grip on my stomach again and was starting to squeeze. There was nothing major going on, no crisis, just a simple writing assignment, some phone calls and organizing, a drop-by visit, some calls on my cell, a couple family questions to deal with or pass on, a call from the doctor to clarify my prescription and a few well wishers who had heard of my illness. Nothing particularly stressful; just the normal routine.

It is interesting the yokes we strap on. Others may see the extent of the weight but from the vantage point of underneath the load, I guess we just can't see it. Or maybe it's that we take a certain pride in carrying so much. Like at the gym; "I can press . . ." After all, 'no pain, no gain' right? Maybe that's why I read Jesus' words in Matthew 11:30 with two different ears of understanding. On one hand, the light burden sounds good, just like that quiet hospital room with the lovely view that removed me from the deadlines and calendar on my desk. On the other hand, I'm not sure I'm ready to let go. I mean the word for light in v. 30 can also mean insignificant or limited in extent. I don't want to be insignificant and I don't want to be forgotten while I rest away at the hospital. Ministry is too important for me to take it that lightly.

Just maybe I need a third ear to listen to Jesus; one that is willing to admit that it is not my ministry, but his and the work really can go on without me. Yet maybe, in all that insignificance I can also hear his care reaching out for me with hands like the E.R. nurse, saying, "Let me help your pain." "Let's get you settled and comfortable while we look at your problems." Maybe I can find a way to hear those words that remind me that I am significant in Christ's eyes, not for what I do, but just for who I am.

Maybe its time for the yoke to go. And seriously, won't I look much better without it?

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