I picture myself plowing a field with a wooden yoke around my neck, similar to what I see in old pictures of oxen yoked together, plowing fields. But I am stubborn, independent, and arrogant, and I have chosen to plow my field by myself. It is a plot of land that I have worked hard to gain and own, and have a reputation. Everyone knows this is my field. It has my name on a big sign, and there is an unspoken competition amongst the land of all the landowners to compete for the biggest crops, the biggest fruit, and the most luscious field. And so it is well worth my effort to work very hard to sweat and toil and work the land and prove to myself and to everyone else what a great job I can do making this field grow well and grow great crops. Then someone taps me on the shoulder, and I turned to look, and I see the face of Jesus Christ. He says to me: May I help you? Yes, I say as he puts His head through the other hole in the yoke. Now, side by side with Jesus, we plow the field together. Immediately I notice that indeed the load is lighter, that it is great to have someone help and share the burden. I notice that Jesus is diligent, a hard worker and wants to be a team with me. Yet I think of how this benefits me. I can get twice as much done with Jesus helping. I can win the competition of the land. I can look the best because now I have help to do twice the work or more that I did before.
Jesus says: My yoke is easy My burden is light.
Then Jesus tells me: I know this field really well, and what you don't know is that up ahead, we are about to attempt to plow up a huge boulder, and on the far side of the boulder is clay, thick heavy clay. We will toil and sweat, and have the hardest time trying to plow up this boulder and this clay. I know a field up over the hill – you can’t see it from here, but the land is rich and the soil is fertile. It’s light and fluffy – no rocks, no obstacles, no clay. It is the best of the land in this area; it is the best land anywhere. I would like to take you there, if you let me steer this plow. We can go up yonder over the hill and work a field that is easy to grow. As good as it sounds, His offer is a lighter way, and yet I struggle with the choice. If I go with Him, I abandon my pride and joy. I abandon my identity and my reputation. I abandon the very plot of land that people recognize as me, and I will therefore step out of the competition, and I will not prove my superiority over my peers. What will they think, and how do I know this land is really what Jesus says it is? After all, I cannot see it from where I stand. He says it's over the hill. How do I know He's telling the truth? At least where I stand, I know what I have. I have a fine plot of land. I've done well in the past. I've impressed my neighbors. Now, I have Jesus helping, I will impress them twice as much! And yet Jesus offers me something greater that I cannot see, and the cost is heavy. He's asking me to give up my family heritage and all that I have known – my very way of life that has sustained me all these years. He's asking me to give that up for something that sounds better, but I really don't know. I have not seen it and I have no guarantee, other than the word of Jesus Christ that this land of milk and honey actually exists! So is my struggle.
If He is true, He is telling me that if I stay here on my own terms, life will be harder. And if I go with Him, over the hill to the land of milk and honey, life will be lighter and easier, richer and fuller. So is my dilemma. Do I rebel against Him and stay loyal to my original way of life, or do I give up that life to follow Him. He says His yoke is easy, His burden is light. If what He says is true, then my freedom-seeking rebellion leads only to a harder life for myself.