Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany” and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.”
Listen Now. We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
Go-To Verses from the Bible
Come to me, all 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.” Matthew 11:28-30
Good morning Prayer Team!
I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving and were afforded somewhat of a break. Now, the Monday after, as we head back to work and school, I’m sure many of us are feeling just a bit overwhelmed. If your job is like mine, taking a few days off means a few days of catch up. If you are a student or have deadlines that need to be met by the end of the year, you are probably looking at the days, and looking at the work and wondering how all the work will get done in the number of days left to get it done. Maybe you even have regret about taking some time off.
Well, here is some advice. Before you dive into work today, take five more minutes off. What? Take more time off? Yes, that’s correct. Take at least five minutes before you jump into whatever you are jumping into and sit with God in prayer. Open up the Bible for a few minutes. Read something from the Gospels or the Psalms or both.
When I am feeling overwhelmed, I meditate on today’s Bible verse. For those who don’t know what a yoke is, it is a wooden beam that would be placed around the neck of two animals, such as a pair of oxen or a pair of horses, to enable them to pull together on a load when working in pairs. A yoke helps them shoulder the load equally, as well as pull in the same direction. A yoke can also refer to a burden, like the “yoke of slavery.” Both uses can apply to today’s verse.
First, imagine the wooden beam joining two animals, and the collar that encircles the necks of both. Not imagine that the yoke unites you to Christ, so that a) you can’t be separate from Him, b) it will be easier for you to walk with Him and c) so that your burdens and weights will be shared by Him as well. Try walking in sync with Him. Many times when we struggle, it is because we feel overwhelmed and ALONE. Jesus doesn’t ever want us to feel alone. He wants to walk in our struggles with us. He invites us to share our struggles with Him. He offers to share our struggles with us.
Second, the “yoke” of Christianity is not supposed to be a burden that makes life harder. Quite the opposite. The yoke of Christianity is supposed to help make us more like Christ.
We are all familiar with the image of the “three-legged race” we’ve all done at picnics and school fun days. When you tie your leg to someone else’s leg, if you actually move in sync with the other person, it makes walking easier. When you can’t get in sync, it makes walking a nightmare. A life where we walk with Jesus, where we “put our arm around Him” and allow Him to do the same for us, leads to feelings of support and togetherness, rather than feelings of being overwhelmed because we feel isolated and lonely, like we are the only one carrying the burden.
I know I will face some challenges today. You will as well. One of the greatest challenges is not only what the right thing to do is, but just how to get to all the things that need getting to. Feeling overwhelmed doesn’t allow us to be at our best. So, when you feel overwhelmed, stop, say a prayer, yoke your heart to the heart of Christ. Think like a servant. Offer your best. Ask Christ to help you have wisdom and clear thinking. Ask Him to help you be efficient and free of distraction. Walk in step with Him.
Lord, thank You for the gift of a new day and a new week. Walk with me today as I begin a new week of challenges and responsibilities. Help me to be efficient in my work, and to be free from distraction. Help me to have wisdom and to think clearly. Help me to walk in step with You, to be a person of faith, and to work and to act in ways that are pleasing to You. When I feel overwhelmed, help me to have confidence. When I have doubts, give me reassurance. When I feel discouraged, lift me up. Surround me with people who will encourage and build me up. Help me to offer the same to others. Thank You for the “yoke” of Christianity which sets the purpose for my life. May I always stay true to this “yoke” and walk with You each day. Amen.
Walking with Christ does not take away all our burdens. It does, however, make the burdens feel lighter, because they are shared. Walk with Christ today! Yoke your life to Him!
With Roger Hunt providing today’s Daily Reading: Listen Now.
These readings are under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder: Reading © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA, Apolytikion of Abbot Marcellus © Narthex Press, Kontakion of Abbot Marcellus © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
Photo Credit: St. Thomas the Apostle
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