A few weeks ago I heard Jen Hatmaker teaching about the early training of rabbis and the meaning of the term yoke, in particular. It resonated with my spirit and was somewhat of an "ah-ha" moment. This may be a rough explanation because I am working from memory.
In the time of Jesus, each rabbi has his own "take" on the law -- consisting of the teaching he received from his mentor rabbi, his interpretations, etc. When that rabbi rose to the level of teaching others to be rabbis, the task of the student rabbis was to imitate their teacher in every way, up to and including the way he ate his food and did his other daily tasks -- like Paul and Gamaliel.
Here's where it gets interesting. Each rabbi's set of practices and teaching were referred to as his "yoke." Jesus called his apostles, and He calls us, saying in Matthew 11:28-30: "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, 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."
Jesus was referring to His set of practices and teachings -- they weren't burdensome, like the other rabbis' teachings. They were easy and light because they involved being gentle and humble, and resting in Him. He was (is) calling those who are weary and heavy laden because they have been following a man-made set of rules.
The way I see it is that the true rest in Jesus isn't something I do; it is a gift that Jesus gives me as I abide in Him. An ox can only wear one yoke at a time. I must take Jesus' yoke alone and learn from Him. His teachings are centered on love -- loving Him and loving others with His love. When I stop trying to control things (and people) in my life by following a set of rules (i.e. another yoke) then I can focus on love. Then I can abide in Him, having faith that He has everything under His control, and I will experience a deep and abiding rest for my soul.
Isn't it funny how we gravitate to a set of rules? We'll even make up rules for avoiding rules! The life of faith, of abiding rest and trust in Jesus alone and His finished work, eludes us because we have such a hard time trusting that He is enough. He is, and always will be, our all in all -- our strength when we are weak, the treasure we seek, the One who lifts us up when we fall, the source of living water, the well that never runs dry. (Thank you very much for putting this in song, Dennis Jernigan!)
My prayer is that I will stop focusing on the circumstances surrounding me, and I will focus every ounce of my being on resting and trusting Jesus, knowing that HE controls the circumstances of my life.