The Savior said:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matt 11:28-30
A yoke is a wooden bar or frame by which two draft animals (such as oxen) are joined at the heads or necks so they can work and pull together. It’s a way to share and lessen a load.
Every day every one of us carries a load: responsibilities – obligations – expectations – disappointments – injustices. That’s by design. It’s how we learn. It’s how we grow. It’s how we progress. It’s why we are here.
Satan tells us we can escape and be freed of our burdens by ignoring our responsibilities.
He’s a liar.
Ignoring responsibilities may be briefly freeing, but ultimately, dodging our obligations only makes things worse. Real freedom comes by living God’s standards and rules, not dismissing them.
Making good choices removes many burdens, but not all. Some have to be borne. Our shoulders are strong enough to bear up the burdens placed on them if we are yoked with the right partner – Jesus Christ.
Many voices claim living the Gospel is too difficult and demanding. But is it?
Elder Lawrence C. Corbridge said:
“The Lord’s way is not hard. Life is hard, not the gospel. There is an ‘opposition in all things,’ everywhere for everyone. Life is hard for all of us, but life is also simple. We have only two choices. We can either follow the Lord and be endowed with His power and have peace, LIGHT, strength, knowledge, confidence, love and joy, or we can go some other way, any other way, whatever other way, and go it alone—without His support, without His power, without guidance, in DARKNESS, turmoil, doubt, grief, and despair. And I ask, which way is easier? — “The Way” – Lawrence C. Corbridge
Christ assures us: “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Until a year ago I always read that last part (my burden is light) as light meaning not heavy. His way is light. All our burdens are lighter and lightened when we are yoked to Christ.
But then I realized yoking ourselves to Him can also mean we are called to carry a burden of LIGHT.
I assert that burden is to BE A LIGHT.
Matthew 5:14-16 “Ye are the light of the world……Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
We live in a world of stark contrasts – light and dark, good and evil. Alma taught “whatsoever is light is good” – Alma 32:35
Christ encourages us to be the light by inviting each one of us to be good – and being good is a worthy goal. There are countless numbers of good people all over the earth in and out of churches. No one group has a corner on goodness. But just being good isn’t good enough.
President Hinckley taught: “You are good. But it is not enough just to be good. You must BE GOOD FOR SOMETHING. You must contribute good to the world. The world must be a better place for your presence. And the good that is in you must be spread to others…In this world so filled with problems, so constantly threatened by DARK and evil challenges, you can and must rise above mediocrity, above indifference. You can become involved and speak with a strong voice for that which is right.” — Gordon B Hinckley (BYU Devotional Sept 17, 1996)
Sometimes we want to avoid that invitation. Sometimes it’s too heavy or too frightening. And sometimes not doing good when we know we should makes us feel guilty.
“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” — James 4:17
The world preaches that guilt is bad. But I’m grateful for guilt. Guilt is my friend. It motivates me to do good things I don’t feel like doing and to not do bad things I do feel like doing. But guilt isn’t really the source of those motivations. Avoiding guilt is.
The world calls that compulsion conscience. We call it “the light of Christ”. Everyone is born with it. If we choose to embrace it and respond to it in positive ways it can be our life-long companion and helpmeet. If we ignore it not only does it fade, but we lose self-respect. Then it becomes an annoying reminder of how we are disappointing ourselves and others when we succumb to our own self-indulgence. To avoid those feelings we may resort to doing everything possible to numb ourselves of its nagging presence via media or food or sleep or sex or drugs or porn or alcohol or any other escape mechanism necessary to dull its promptings.
George Washington said: “Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience”.
Interesting isn’t it that we have to work to keep our conscience active and we also have to work to totally eliminate it.
Satan wants to extinguish our conscience because He needs to extinguish our light.
CS Lewis taught: “It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the light and out into the nothing….the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones.”
I testify that anything that moves us away from LIGHT moves us out into the nothing. Instead we must cling to the light, stay close to it and do everything we can to bring additional light into our lives and the lives of others.
Maybe right now we don’t feel good enough, or strong enough or bright enough to be exemplary to anyone. But even our little lights make a difference.
Elder Neal A Maxwell said: “You and I, in our own little circles, have been placed here to light up the landscape of life for others, frail and flickering as our own flames seem at times.” “This matter….of being a light is even more important in dark times. Our impact, for better or worse, on others is inevitable, but it is intended that we be a light and not just another shadow.”
Elder Robert D Hales said: “Have you ever stopped to think that perhaps you are the light sent by Heavenly Father to lead another safely home or to be a beacon from a distance to show the way back to the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life? Your light is a beacon and should never stop burning or mislead those who are looking for a way home.”
I love and need light. Last Sunday, June 21 was Summer Solstice – the longest day (and my favorite day) of the year. Today is June 26.
The different duration of June 21 daylight and June 26 daylight is so gradual we can’t even perceive it, but it’s changing nonetheless. Every day from now ‘til December 21 will be a little bit shorter. The tilt of the earth on its axis makes the difference. It’s the direction of the lean. The earth is never static…always leaning closer to or farther away from the sun.
Same for us….every day we are either leaning closer to or farther away from the Son. Maybe in such small ways it seems insignificant, but over time the effect is dramatic. Like the contrast between daylight hours on June 21 and December 21…literally night and day.
Today even though it’s summer, we are in the midst of winter figuratively. Things have grown dark. We see it in global unrest, political corruptness, brazen bigotry, unapologetic debauchery, crude dress, foul language, and lewd behavior. Evils that used to skulk in the dark now parade in the light. Those evils deny the true light that is Jesus Christ and His teachings. As the world grows darker and darker, the need for light grows greater and greater.
We are called to be those lights. And the reassuring thing is, light always conquers darkness.
The only way to create darkness is through the absence of light. You can’t walk into a room and click on the dark. You can only shut out the light. But you can walk into a dark room and click on the light. And it immediately defeats the darkness.
And so can we.
Addressing the youth Brad Wilcox said: “As we strive to discern our personal missions, opposition will surely come. That’s ok. It is what tests our persistence and courage and turns us ever more resolutely to the Lord. Opinions will be voiced on all sides, but caring too much about what other people think or whether other people approve keeps us settling for the status quo instead of reaching for something more. Stepping out of our comfort zones can make us LIGHTS, but it can also make us TARGETS. God wants us to be lights anyway.”
Last summer Elder Holland told seminary and institute teachers: “A student is not a ‘container to be filled’ – a student ‘is a fire to be ignited.’ As teachers, we are to be spiritual arsonists. Our lessons are to be incendiary devices.” — (global broadcast for seminary and institute instructors June 12, 2019)
And President Nelson said: “The kingdom of God is not and cannot be complete without women who make sacred covenants and then keep them, women who can speak with the power and authority of God….Today….we need women who know how to make important things happen by their faith and who are courageous defenders of morality and families in a sin-sick world. We need women who are devoted to shepherding God’s children along the covenant path toward exaltation; women who know how to receive personal revelation, who understand the power and peace of the temple endowment; women who know how to call upon the powers of heaven to protect and strengthen children and families; women who teach fearlessly.“
Stepping up to that will make us targets too. All of us. But let’s be fearless anyway. Doing so puts us in the best of company for the Savior taught:
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” – Matthew 5:10-12
Christ “went about doing good yet was despised for it”
“His countenance shown above the brightness of the sun.”
And in the coming day:
“…the glory of the Lord shall be revealed”
“He will rule as king of king and reign as lord of lords”
“He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world”
Let us, every one of us, also bring light, life, and hope to the world.
As Paul declared: “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and LET US PUT ON THE ARMOUR OF LIGHT” – Romans 13:12