Yokes and Burdens

This last year we had the opportunity to branch into a new experience for me. It is one that has interested me for a number of years, but which – to put it honestly – has also intimidated me:D

 

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Dan and Dixi

But thanks to some dairy steers that we were able to raise and sell, this interest became a reality!

We were able to purchase a team and a wagon!

Dan and Dixi joined our ranch last year around September, and I will be the first to say that they have been a lot of fun. We have enjoyed having the opportunity to head out for a drive on many sunny afternoons.

But I will also be the first to say that I had a huge learning curve to go through…All those straps and buckles…have to be attached in the right way, to the right places and the right pieces…

IMG_6916Thankfully, I had some very patient instructors and some well-trained horses that were able to teach me the ropes…so to speak. And now I have been “harnessed” – willingly – into the pleasures of team driving!

Haha:D…couldn’t resist that pun…it was too obvious to not put in!

As we have been driving Dan and Dixi, I have come to appreciate their ability to listen and respond to the instructions given to them. “Whoa” means “Stop”, a cluck means “Walk” and a kissing sound means “Move quickly!”

In fact, just to “show” you how well they listen, I’d like to share a story with you.

One day, last autumn, we were out for a wagon ride in one of our fields. We had stopped for people to get out and move around. As the last person got in and took her seat, one of the kids that were along for the ride made a kissing sound.

Yikes!

Dan and Dixi – both listening for the cue to go – leaned into their traces and leapt forward, eager to get moving:D

Thankfully we had the brake on (yes, our wagon has a brake for which I am thankful:D) and the reins were held so the leap wasn’t too big. Dan and Dixi stopped, and once each person was settled, we started off again…

At a nice trot!

There are other times; however, when Dan & Dixi’s listening capabilities are hindered by the fact that they get into their minds that they are the ones choosing the direction that we are going to go. This happens quite a bit when they anticipate that we are going home. As we come to the corner heading up to our house, they inevitably try to turn in that direction…

When we drive past the road, you can almost see their thoughts reflected in their actions…the bobbing heads…the “trying” to turn back…

You know, the more we drive Dan and Dixi, the more I see my actions reflected in their own as I listen and obey (or not!) the instructions given to me by my Father.

There are times when I think I know the direction that the path I am on is heading, and when it doesn’t turn out quite how I thought it would, I begin to bob my head in frustration and try to turn around and go back, thinking that surely this cannot be the path that God has directed my steps on.  

After all, this is not the course that I had planned for my life.

And of course, in my way of thinking, who would know better the direction of the course of my life than…

Me, myself and I!

But I have learned, that – just as Dan and Dixi need instructions on which course to take to get from to Point B – I need direction as well.

As their driver, I have knowledge that they don’t, for I know where there are ditches, fences, obstructions, and possible dangers that may keep them from reaching our destination, and so it is important that they follow my guidance so that we can reach where we want to go. I know where they will be facing an uphill climb, so it is important that we take time to stop and rest so they can make it to the top.

As their driver, I don’t give them instructions to go here, stop there, take this corner, and go straight along this stretch because I like to see them go in circles and see how long it takes to frustrate their minds.

Instead I keep in mind the wagon that they are pulling, the number of people that are in it, the temperature of the day, and any obstructions that may prevent us from reaching our destination. Armed with this information I can plan a route to that ensures their yoke is easy and their burden is light…because, they are special horses and I want to take good care of them.  IMG_4037

In my own life, with my limited vision and perspective, I often think that the quickest way to get from Point A to Point B is in a straight line and to keep on moving. No stopping…

So when “life” doesn’t go according to my plan…when I find God directing me to stop when I want to go, or to turn when I want to go straight, it is hard to yield to His leading…and I can quickly become frustrated…disillusioned…discouraged…or even angry. From this point it is easy to begin thinking that God doesn’t know what He is doing…that He doesn’t care…that He is ruthless and is out to frustrate me…or that He is stingy and my thoughts, desires, needs and plans are of no importance to Him.

But that is not the case. In fact, Matthew 11:28 – 30 paints a different picture.

“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.”

I like to think of it this way…

When God is showing me that I need to stop and wait, to be still and be patient and get strengthened for that long, difficult hill that is around the corner – the one that I don’t know is there, but He does – I need to listen. If, instead, I am straining in the harness, stomping my feet, fighting the bit…is it any wonder that I am weary, tired and exhausted before I begin the hill?   IMG_6960

Yet whose fault is it?

Not God’s!

It is mine for not listening to His commands.

It isn’t always easy, but I am learning to heed the instructions that God gives me…

Because He knows what direction the path He has placed me on is going to take. He knows the difficulties, the obstacles, the corners and the resting places that I need to take in order to get from Point A to Point B.

If I find that the tasks He has given to me are leaving me weary and burdened, perhaps it is because I am straining to go when He is telling me to stop, or trying to go straight when He is directing me to turn. If I do this, the very yoke and burden that He has given me become frustrating and heavy…and leave me discouraged or upset or angry, instead of joyful and at rest.  IMG_6944

The exact opposite of what He intended for me.

This hasn’t been an easy lesson for me to learn…in fact, I am still learning it:D I am so thankful that He is gently and humble in heart, and a patient, forgiving teacher.

Having Dan & Dixi join our ranks on the ranch, has helped me to better understand the importance of listenging and following the instructions and guidance given to me by my Father…

For the purposes and intentions of my God towards me…are good, and not evil…of a hope and a future:D