“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.” Matthew 11:29
I watched a feel-good movie not too long ago called “Red Dog.” It’s based on the true story about a dog who is embraced by a small town in Western Australia called Dampier. There’s not much going on in Dampier during the 1970s except a lot of industry and dust, so it’s no wonder a charming stray dog captures their hearts. While Red Dog’s amicable presence serves as a buffer between the harsh reality of tough work and loneliness for many, we learn that something is missing in Red Dog’s life: a master.
In a pivotal scene, Red Dog is being used to entertain men in a bar. After he gorges an entire can of dog food in 9.2 seconds, they bring out a live chicken for Red Dog to devour. As the frenzied crowd goes wild with anticipation and takes bets, the local bus driver, John, walks into the bar and senses that Red Dog does not want to comply. The dog longingly looks to John to rescue him. John realizes he needs to help Red Dog. After some tense negotiation, he is able to persuade the crowd to stop and leaves the bar with his new best friend. A few years later, John is killed in a motorcycle accident but Red Dog is relentless in trying to find him. The dog reportedly went all over Western Australia looking for John. Eventually, Red Dog makes his way back to Dampier, and the town erects a statue in honor of the loyal pooch since he embodied such a generous spirit.
While there wasn’t any obvious religious overtones in the story, I couldn’t help but think the relationship between John and Red Dog is a microcosm of our relationship to God. We do life with a sense of something missing until that Someone becomes everything to us. For Red Dog, because he didn’t have one master, he was, in a sense, slave to all. He provided some mutually satisfying reprieve, but he also was fodder when idleness crept in. Red Dog proved he could keep everyone happy for a bit through speedily consuming a can of dog food, but he seemed to understand the high stakes when a live chicken was brought in: he would have to tap into something dangerous inside himself to satisfy the crowd he was slave to, and they wanted that insatiable brutality to be fed. When John mercifully stepped in to save Red Dog from becoming a monster, the dog was eternally grateful and would never be the same again. I think the crowd was also grateful for John’s intervention because it curbed their own wanton rebellion.
Isn’t it like that with Christ? He sees the dangerous consequence of sin around us and in us. Thankfully, He doesn’t stand by without trying to intervene:
-He has a heart that longs to gather us like a hen gathers her chicks under her wings (Matthew 23:37)
-He stands at the door and knocks to come into our hearts (Revelation 3:20)
-I slept but my heart was awake. Listen! It is the voice of my beloved who knocks (Song of Songs 5:2)
Jesus is our merciful rescuer through delivering us from ourselves. He knows the latent brutality inside each of us. Without taking His gentle yoke and being in agreement with Him that we really need His help, we are doomed to feed our vicious nature because it is a restless beast. Red Dog loved John not only for rescuing him that night, but for rescuing him from becoming a hated monster. Titus 3:3 says, “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.” Just as John became Red Dog’s everything, Jesus becomes our everything as we habitually take His loving yoke upon ourselves.
Lord God, You are Savior of the world. You are humble and gentle of heart, and I take Your yoke upon me. When I have chosen to take Your yoke off, please forgive me and remind me that Yours is light. Thank You for rescuing me from myself. I am grateful for Your patience with me and for being my master. I am Your servant, and I love You with all that I am. In Jesus’ Name, amen.
In Joyful Surrender,