Dr. Richard Swenson is a physician and a futurist, who wrote a 1990’s book entitled, “Margin.” He describes modern society as harried, hassled, and overloaded with no room left for rest.
Dr Swenson observes, “Overload is not having time to finish the book you’re reading on stress. Margin is having time to read it twice. Overload is fatigue. Margin is energy. Overload is red ink. Margin is black ink. Overload is hurry. Margin is calm. Overload is anxiety. Margin is security. Overload is a disease of our day. Margin is the cure.”
I agree with much of his book as it applies to schedules, commitments, and balance in the stress of daily living. There is some excellent advice offered. And even an acknowledgment of understanding God’s purpose for our lives. But there is a bigger problem. And the need for a greater cure. A doctor is needed. But it is the Great Physician.
In this week’s Bible reading is the prescription from the Great Physician for the soul and a society sick in sin.
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30)
Dr Swenson says our society is filled with folks living meaningless lives. He calls them “pieces of broken humanity.” He unfolds the problem of pain. Stress. And overloaded. Our problem is that we’ve held Jesus at arm’s length. We’ve forgotten that we’re created with a need for God in the center of lives. We’ve compromised our spiritual values. Individually. And as a society.
Our real problem is the burden of the soul of which Jesus addresses. It is the burden of sin and the weight of guilt. It troubles us mentally. Drains us emotionally. And weakens us spiritually.
To the heavy heart, Jesus says, “Come.” His invitation is open to all. All people. All races. All backgrounds. If you are confused by a complex and often contradictory life, Jesus calls you to come to Him. He is the great physician with the prescription for abundant living. He is the Son of God. The Savior of humankind. The Answer to the problems of a lost world.
To the burdened soul, Jesus says “take.” This calls for a deeper spiritual experience. Coming to Christ is not just an academic exercise or a mental acquiesce. It calls for commitment. Dedication. And surrender. It calls for an unshakeable faith, an unwavering hope, and unfaltering love. It speaks to a daily walk with Jesus.
In the midst of his excellent advice for living a simpler, uncluttered, and disciplined life, Dr. Swenson writes, “Yet for the adherent of Christianity a strong pull motivates: To be a follower of Christ means we should follow Him.” Jesus calls it taking His yoke.
This metaphor is lost on our generation. Yokes were custom-made for oxen to be paired together and work in the field or pull heavy loads. Jesus was a carpenter and likely made yokes in his shop in Nazareth
Barclay says, “There is a legend that Jesus made the best ox-yokes in all Galilee, and that from all over the country men came to him to buy the best yokes that skill could make. In those days, as now, shops had their signs above the door; and it has been suggested that the sign above the door of the carpenter’s shop in Nazareth may well have been: “My yokes fit well.”
Interestingly, the word translated “easy” means “well-fitting.” Jesus’ yoke is custom-made for our lives. It fits well. It is not a burden. But a blessing that will make life’s load easier to bear.
To the troubled mind, Jesus says, “learn.” We live in an era of information overload. Our minds are cluttered with so much that distracts us from our greater purpose in life. From our computers to our iPhones to our social networks we can become overloaded with useless information. And messages that are mentally disruptive, disturbing, and discouraging.
In the middle of this messed up world, there is peace of mind. Calm for the troubled soul. Medicine for the pained heart. It’s the Good News of Jesus. The message of salvation. The Gospel of hope.
Learning is a process. It takes time. Effort. And commitment. But the rewards will free you from an energy-draining life that is taking you nowhere! Learn the meaning of the sermon on the Mount. Learn the essence of the two great commandments. Learn the significance of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. Learn what discipleship demands.
Jesus provides the prescription for the hurting heart. For sin-strained souls For ruined relationships. For broken homes. For discouraged parents. For wayward children. For absentee fathers. For neglectful mothers. For the drug-addicted soul. For the angry heart. For divided churches. For demoralized pastors and preachers. And for a sin-sick society.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman