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.
Jesus Christ tells us that His yoke is easy. And I testify that it is. However, He never said that the process of getting that yoke on your shoulders was going to be easy or light. Just as the process of lifting a heavy beam upon your shoulders can be hard and strenuous, such is the case with each of us as we strive to take upon us His yoke.
How is it that we can take upon ourselves His yoke? How can our burdens be lightened?
The answer is simple. By living His gospel and utilizing His infinite atonement.
I wish I could say the course of action is as simple as the answer. Let's face it, living the gospel of Jesus Christ requires work and, often times, sacrifice. His gospel is one of work, pro-activity, and constant change.
Life is hard. Some times are considerably harder than others, but I would say as a general rule, life isn't just a cakewalk. We make mistakes-it happens and is part of life. It is how we learn. Repentance, change, is key and essential to our being able to take upon ourselves His yoke. Repentance isn't exactly a casual walk in the park either, nor was it ever intended to be. How else would we learn? I love how 2 Corinthians 7 explains the principle of repentance: I'll take it piece by piece #repentance101
"Ye were made sorry" and "ye were made sorry after a godly manner" are two completely different things.
Let me demonstrate:
Little Billy wants a cookie. His mom says, "no." Billy really wants a cookie, so he climbs on top of the fridge to steal a cookie...and then mom catches him red handed.
Now, there are two versions of the story from this point.
Version 1: Billy gets a spanking and is sent to time out. He is embarrassed and ashamed that he got caught. He tells his mom that he won't steal cookies anymore.
Version 2: Billy gets a spanking and is sent to time out. Though embarrassed and ashamed, he realizes that he really should not have disobeyed his mom. He apologizes for disobeying his mom and promises to work harder to be obedient.
In version 1, Billy was "made sorry." He was embarrassed that his mom had caught him trying to steal a cookie. He felt guilty, and didn't want to get caught and punished again.
In version 2, Billy was "made sorry after a godly manner." This is often referred to as "godly sorrow." That is, being sorry because you know you went against God's will and want to change. Rather than change his actions due to guilt, embarrassment, and fear of punishment (version 1), Billy realizes that he did something morally wrong and he doesn't want to make that mistake again. He wants to learn from that experience and try to be better.
Godly sorrow is an essential step in repentance. I would be a complete liar if I said that I acted like Billy in version 2 all the time. I too often find myself being the version 1 Billy, and that is something that I, myself, am working on!:)
For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
Consider the following words of President Ezra Taft Benson:
“It is not uncommon to find men and women in the world who feel remorse for the things they do wrong. Sometimes this is because their actions cause them or loved ones great sorrow and misery. Sometimes their sorrow is caused because they are caught and punished for their actions. Such worldly feelings do not constitute ‘godly sorrow’ (2 Corinthians 7:10). Godly sorrow is a gift of the Spirit. It is a deep realization that our actions have offended our Father and our God. It is the sharp and keen awareness that our behavior caused the Savior, He who knew no sin, even the greatest of all, to endure agony and suffering. Our sins caused Him to bleed at every pore. This very real mental and spiritual anguish is what the scriptures refer to as having ‘a broken heart and contrite spirit’ (D&C 20:37). Such a spirit is the absolute prerequisite for true repentance”
May we all strive to sorrow in a godly manner, that we might be truly repentant and receive all the blessings of Christ's atonement:)
I love this last verse. It beautifully, truthfully, and vividly depicts the process of repentance. Again, I'll take it piece by piece.
For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
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What carefulness it wrought in you.
Once you realized that you have made a wrong choice and truly have a repentant heart, you [hopefully] become a little more conscious and aware of your actions. You don't want to make the same mistake again, and you are more careful going forward.
What clearing of yourselves.
After you've made a mistake, you commit to clearing yourself of that mistake. You are careful (remember?) and work to wipe the slate clean again.
I love this word.
Indignation: a strong displeasure at something considered unjust, offensive, insulting, or base; righteous anger.
As you work to not make the same mistake again, you become indignant. The idea of making that same mistake again becomes "dis-pleasurable."
Not fear of timeout or a spanking. No, not fear of punishment. But fear of God--meaning that you desire to respect, please, and obey God by not making that same mistake again, and by striving to keep His commandments as you move forward.
What vehement desire, yea what zeal.
Holy cow, I love this word too.
Vehement: marked by great energy or exertion; strenuous
It is no longer a matter of "avoid the mistake, avoid the mistake, avoid the mistake." It is a new conscious, willing, and zealous desire to not only avoid that mistake, but to fervently act on the will of God rather than that of your own.
This is a great one too! And take note of the exclamation point! And don't worry, it's not evil revenge. You don't have to start the process of repentance over;)
I like to think of it as a bit of a slap in the face to Satan. Like saying, "hey dude, nice try. But you are NOT going to make me do that again. See ya!"
In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
Now you can take a big, deep breath.
Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.
You may remember the mistakes that you have made, so that you don't make them again. But you can rest assured that, to God, it's like it never happened. I think that's pretty awesome.
Then once we have taken upon ourselves His yoke, He can help make our burdens light. He can strengthen us in our endeavors. He will give us strength beyond our own. At times, he may even carry us.
I think Alma puts it nicely:
"...it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me."
The gospel of Jesus Christ is truly delicious to me. I can't always say that I have felt that way. It took years of preparation and tons of help along the way. With help from so many who have loved me, I have taken upon myself His yoke. Getting the yoke upon my shoulders was not easy and has taken me years, but the work was well worth it. Once I put away my own will and replaced it with His, He has given me help and support without restraint.
I testify that His yoke is in fact light and easy.
It offers me such joy: a condition of great happiness coming from righteous living.
It is not always easy. In fact, more times that not it is hard. But I promise you it is worth it. And so, I leave you with a challenge.
Make an extra effort to put God's will in place of yours.
I promise that as you do so, your burdens will be light because your Savior, even Jesus Christ, will be bearing those burdens alongside you. I also promise you that you will be given added strength as the Lord sees fit-that you may accomplish the things which He would have you do. And most importantly: you will have joy. :)
Smile and have a fantastic week!:)