(This week I include my original song “Grace Unleashed” for your enjoyment as you read this week’s blog)

Every morning and evening we take Izzy, our Cairn terrier, for a long walk. Izzy looks forward to these times with great anticipation and knows our pre-walk procedure as we get ready and then attach her harness and leash. Since we know the best paths and roads to travel, the leash keeps Izzy moving in the right direction. We also use the leash to keep our dog from going places or encountering other animals that could harm her. We always keep the leash loose, so it doesn’t hurt Izzy, and only pull it in when an unfamiliar vehicle or animal tempts her to take off in a dangerous pursuit. The leash allows us to keep Izzy within our protective and loving will for her.

All humans, knowingly or not, live under some yoke, or leash, in our lives. The Bible is filled with stories of “leashed” or yoked people. Here are a couple of examples:

  • In the Old Testament, Moses warned the people who had chosen to yoke or leash themselves to the false gods of their day of God’s anger toward them (see Numbers 25)
  • The consequence of their choice was that the nation of Israel eventually became physically enslaved—leashed—to their enemies (see Deuteronomy 28)
  • It was always God who broke the iron leashes of slavery that held the Israelites captive to their enemies, as the Bible states:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high” (Leviticus 26:13)

Even today, people live with different kinds of yokes or leashes in their lives. These yokes come in a variety of forms: addictions to drugs, sex, alcohol, gambling, materialism, depression, fear, violence, earthly success, even self-righteous religious activities and striving. There is a heavy toll exacted by these cruel bondages, both in this life and the next.

But God has always been in the business of unleashing people from bondages, and he still is doing this today! Jesus invites you and me to trade our destructive leashes for a new, healthy yoke that frees and heals. Here’s Jesus’ Word for us:

“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.” (Matthew 11:29-30)

In Jesus, we can exchange our leashes of bondage for what my friend Ed calls God’s “lifeline.” It is the gentle but strong bond that always keeps us within God’s loving will and plan. God’s yoke keeps us from going places or encountering things that could harm us spiritually. Unlike the ruthless leashes of our past, Jesus’ lifeline brings life, healing, and hope. Greatest of all, Jesus’ lifeline places us under the perfect, loving oversight of the one, true God who created us and went to the cross on our behalf.

Here’s how David put it:

“You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.”
(Psalm 139:5)

It’s almost like God has sewn a special, protective pocket on the garment of His being just for each of us. With His powerful yet tender Hand, He shields and protects us even as He calls us to venture out for His Kingdom purposes. He is always present and ready to act when we are threatened or in need. The lifeline of God enables us to move forward confidently when we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory or circumstances, knowing that we are yoked to the all-powerful God who created and rules over everything. God is not only our Master He is also our loving Father. Jesus’ lifeline was designed out of love for our best interest and keeps us within God’s protective and good will.

God bless you!
Chris Atkins