Does anyone remember the old Looney Tunes cartoons? One thing always stuck out to me: there was always an unhealthy abundance of anvils lying around. As a kid, I don’t know that I could even tell you what an anvil was or what it was used for, but I certainly knew that if I was watching a cartoon, odds were one would be falling on somebody’s head soon — usually the coyote. But getting crushed in a cartoon was no big deal. You’d either get a bump on your head with little birdies flying around it or you’d just turn into a living accordion for a scene or two. Reality is much different. Being crushed hurts. And in life, the things that we let crush us are seldom physical, but they’re no less painful.
I’ve heard it said that everyone is a slave to something. In fact, one passage says it like this:
For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.
— 2 Peter 2:19
The even sadder truth is that most of us are slaves to a multitude of things. It’s like we have a collection of masters fighting over us every day. They pull at us, weigh us down, control us, burden us until we feel completely and utterly crushed. That’s a torturous way to live.
Think about some of the masters we invite into our lives: money, status, approval, pleasure, the American dream. We spend our lives dominated by one or more of these forces, enslaved to empty promises. “If I serve money faithfully, put in all those extra work hours, and get that big raise, then I’ll finally be happy!” But in the end, we are just overwhelmed and overworked. Then our list of masters grows even darker: sin, addiction, guilt, shame, worry, fear, bitterness. The lies aren’t even as appealing anymore, but we still find ourselves enslaved to them all the same. This is what happens when we let anything other than God become the Lord of our life. And the result is always the same: It crushes us.
God revealed to us a better way when he came down to Earth in the form of Jesus and invited us to serve him as Lord. His invitation looked unlike any other master you’ve ever heard of.
“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
Jesus bids us to come to him, to follow him, to serve him. Only there’s a big difference. Jesus doesn’t put more weight on us, more shackles, more chains. It’s the opposite. When we serve him, he makes our load lighter. He doesn’t overwhelm our lives; he offers us true rest. He is the only master that has a desire to lighten our burdens and care for our souls. His yoke sounds a lot like freedom.
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
— Galatians 5:1
This is the good God we serve. So why would we choose to serve anything else? Stop submitting to the yoke of slavery. Stop chasing anvils. They will only bruise and crush and weigh you down. Take a moment and ask yourself what is crushing you? What are you a slave to? And what is it doing to your life? Choose today to walk away from these harmful voluntary enslavements and answer Jesus’ simple and beautiful call: “Come.”