The Yoke of Freedom (Delighted Part 4)



Matthew 11:28-30

“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.”


My mom grew up on a little fishing village called Harkers Island, on the coast of North Carolina. From the front porch her dad built, you can see the Cape Lookout Lighthouse and a stretch of land in the sound called Shackleford Banks. Shackleford Banks is home to a population of wild horses. They have never been bridled, trained, or domesticated. Local authorities protect them from human interaction, preserving their untouched way of life. Historians and scientists believe their Spanish Mustang ancestors survived a shipwreck and swam to this strip of safety, where their family line has continued for hundreds of years.

When I was growing up, the wild horses on Harkers Island were a symbol of freedom in mind. No bridles. No saddles. No domestication for the purpose of human service. Total freedom. Until one day it dawned on me. Shackleford Banks is only a couple of miles wide and fewer than ten miles long. For hundreds of years this family line of wild horses has been restricted to this small stretch of sand and seagrass, surrounded by a boundary of water. Perhaps that is not freedom, but isolation.

When Jesus offers the yoke, the enemy whispers of freedom from it. What he really wants for you is isolation. A perceived freedom from Christ, which, of course, is merely bondage to yourself and your own enslaving sin. Jesus channels the prophet’s hope of a God that shatters the yoke of slavery, and in its place he offers a yoke of freedom. Bound to him in discipleship, tied to him in intimacy, walking with him in rest and true fulfillment.

The island appears to be a promise of freedom. It is actually a legacy of isolation.

The yoke seems to be a form of bondage. It is actually an invitation to delight in the freedom of Jesus.


Lord of the yoke, break us free from the bonds of slavery and the false promise that leads to isolation. Bind us to you. Draw us near, and teach us to rest in your freedom. Amen.


How does this imagery of the yoke strike you? Does it rub you wrong way? What do you think about this distinction between freedom and isolation.

For the Awakening,
Matt LeRoy

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Comments and Discussion

2 Responses

  1. This contrasts of yokes demonstrates the upside down nature of the kingdom of God. “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” Jesus. “ For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Paul. I believe that we are all servants to either sin or righteousness. One leads ultimately to eternity without God, the other leads to life eternal with God. I choose life.

  2. That “yoke of freedom,” responsibility, for Christ’s sake, may not a popular topic in American society today. The church is going to be touched with the same problems as the culture in which it lives. The attitude of “looking for opportunities” as well as being willing to fill them, takes a willing team, full of Christ’s vision filled with power to bring God’s Peace to a restless, angry world.
    Those horses you spoke about, are happy enough, when left alone. Their life goals haven’t seen or been challenged with possibilities of the mountains and planes to the west.
    I DO BELIEVE our “comfort zone” in America, needs a challenge: perhaps, supporting a mission that IS BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS both at home and abroad: even at the same time! We now know the yoke that harnesses energy, has new forms of harvesting energy. Our inspiration can be linked with very real success…, perhaps where we have not dreamed.
    I don’t think we necessarily need the conditions that caused the first church of Jerusalem to spread. But I have to admire the Christians who are choosing to stay in Afghanistan, knowing what they are confronting but depending on the power of Christ to see the power of PEACE and COEXISTENCE.

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