Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease (Lesson Outline borrowed from Em & Me)
BY ELDER DAVID A. BEDNAR
***Just a couple of notes: I borrowed this lesson outline because Erika over at Em & Me had done such a great job putting hers together that only a few alterations were needed for my lesson this week. I will say that listening to this talk (youcan listen here) impacted me far more than just reading the version in the ensign as Elder Bednar emphasizes key points about yoking ourselves to the Lord, and Testifying that we are NOT alone. I’d never given thought to the scripture in Matthew 11:28-30 the way I feel like he emphasized it and it greatly impacted a new mindset for me to invite the Lord into my life. (that reads Take my Yoke upon you… for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light)***
I have a dear friend who, in the early years of his marriage, was convinced he and his family needed a four-wheel-drive pickup truck. His wife was sure that he did not need but merely wanted the new vehicle. A playful conversation between this husband and wife initiated their consideration of the advantages and disadvantages of such a purchase.
“Sweetheart, we need a four-wheel-drive truck.”
She asked, “Why do you think we need a new truck?”
He answered her question with what he believed was the perfect response: “What if we needed milk for our children in a terrible storm, and the only way I could get to the grocery store was in a pickup?”
His wife replied with a smile, “If we buy a new truck, we will not have money for milk—so why worry about getting to the store in an emergency!”
Over time they continued to counsel together and ultimately decided to acquire the truck. Shortly after taking possession of the new vehicle, my friend wanted to demonstrate the utility of the truck and validate his reasons for wanting to purchase it. So he decided he would cut and haul a supply of firewood for their home. It was in the autumn of the year, and snow already had fallen in the mountains where he intended to find wood. As he drove up the mountainside, the snow gradually became deeper and deeper. My friend recognized the slick road conditions presented a risk, but with great confidence in the new truck, he kept going.
Sadly, my friend went too far along the snowy road. As he steered the truck off of the road at the place he had determined to cut wood, he got stuck. All four of the wheels on the new truck spun in the snow. He readily recognized that he did not know what to do to extricate himself from this dangerous situation. He was embarrassed and worried.
My friend decided, “Well, I will not just sit here.” He climbed out of the vehicle and started cutting wood. He completely filled the back of the truck with the heavy load. And then my friend determined he would try driving out of the snow one more time. As he put the pickup into gear and applied power, he started to inch forward. Slowly the truck moved out of the snow and back onto the road. He finally was free to go home, a happy and humbled man.
…I emphasize vital lessons that can be learned from this story about my friend, the truck, and the wood. It was the load. It was the load of wood that provided the traction necessary for him to get out of the snow, to get back on the road, and to move forward. It was the load that enabled him to return to his family and his home.
Elder Bednar uses this story to illustrate an important point about the load we all carry.
What is our load?
Quote 1: “Each of us also carries a load. Our individual load is comprised of demands and opportunities, obligations and privileges, afflictions and blessings, and options and constraints. “
How do we view those loads? (passively? Negatively? actively? As a whole? In sections?)
“Two guiding questions can be helpful as we periodically and prayerfully assess our load:
1. “Is the load I am carrying producing the spiritual traction that will enable me to press forward with faith in Christ on the straight and narrow path and avoid getting stuck?
2. Is the load I am carrying creating sufficient spiritual traction so I ultimately can return home to Heavenly Father?”
Quote 2: “Sometimes we mistakenly may believe that happiness is the absence of a load. But bearing a load is a necessary and essential part of the plan of happiness. Because our individual load needs to generate spiritual traction, we should be careful to not haul around in our lives so many nice but unnecessary things that we are distracted and diverted from the things that truly matter most.”
I wondered what he had in mind when he said that last part - things that are nice but unnecessary.
What do you think some of those things could be?
Strength from the Atonement
Quote 3: “The Savior said: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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” (Matthew 11:28–30).
What is a yoke?
It is a beam carved from a single piece of wood is fitted to a particular ox’s shoulders, maximizing comfort and pulling force.
The beam rests in front of the shoulder hump (or withers), distributing weight and enabling natural and comfortable movement. Custom fitting each side allows oxen of unequal size or strength to pull together without one being dragged by the other.
A yoke is:
Why drag the heavy weight of sin around? (see ). When we repent and come unto the Savior, He takes that burden away and gives us peace and healing.
With the Lord’s yoke, we can help do His work (see ), and He will work with us (see ). It’s still work, but in it we find rest to our souls.
It’s His yoke we take upon us—the one best suited for us, because His ways help us live in harmony with our true nature, “the nature of happiness” (), and because the Savior knows us and can succor us individually (see ).
How does this example help us understand the importance of the atonement in bearing our burdens?
How do we take up that yoke?
Quote 4: “Making and keeping sacred covenants yokes us to and with the Lord Jesus Christ. In essence, the Savior is beckoning us to rely upon and pull together with Him, even though our best efforts are not equal to and cannot be compared with His. As we trust in and pull our load with Him during the journey of mortality, truly His yoke is easy and His burden is light.”
But in order to receive this promised aid, we must do our part. Elder Bednar emphasizes: “Note the centrality of covenants to the promise of deliverance. Covenants received and honored with integrity and ordinances performed by proper priesthood authority are necessary to receive all of the blessings made available through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”
Elder Bednar draws from the book of Mosiah:
Quote 5: “”And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs” (Mosiah 24:14). Many of us may assume this scripture is suggesting that a burden suddenly and permanently will be taken away. The next verse, however, describes how the burden was eased. “And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord” (Mosiah 24:15).”
What do we learn from this? How does it make you feel?
Thinking about his instruction to yoke ourselves with Him, the realization of our unequal pairing is more evident than ever. Life will always have a load. Not all loads are burdens, but they are loads and we can be active in using them, as Elder Bednar noted in the first part of his talk, to help us get traction. Understanding our active part in the process is crucial to our success.
The Atonement strengthens, yes, but it also is our source of comfort when we are feeling low.
Quote 6: “And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. “And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities” (Alma 7:11–12). Thus, the Savior has suffered not just for our sins and iniquities—but also for our physical pains and anguish, our weaknesses and shortcomings, our fears and frustrations, our disappointments and discouragement, our regrets and remorse, our despair and desperation, the injustices and inequities we experience, and the emotional distresses that beset us.”
Quote 7: “There is no physical pain, no spiritual wound, no anguish of soul or heartache, no infirmity or weakness you or I ever confront in mortality that the Savior did not experience first. In a moment of weakness we may cry out, “No one knows what it is like. No one understands.” But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He has felt and borne our individual burdens. And because of His infinite and eternal sacrifice (see ), He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy. He can reach out, touch, succor, heal, and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us to do that which we could never do relying only upon our own power. Indeed, His yoke IS easy and His burden IS light.”
Learn more about the Atonement
Elder Bednar encourages us to study, pray, ponder and strive to learn more about the Atonement so that we can understand how to apply it in our lives to the burdens that we carry. He says:
Quote 8: “The unique burdens in each of our lives help us to rely upon the merits, mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah. I testify and promise the Savior will help us to bear up our burdens with ease. As we are yoked with Him through sacred covenants and receive the enabling power of His Atonement in our lives, we increasingly will seek to understand and live according to His will. We also will pray for the strength to learn from, change or accept our circumstances rather than praying relentlessly for God to change our circumstances according to our will. We will become agents who act rather than objects that are acted upon. We will be blessed with spiritual traction.”
My favorite part of this talk was this quote:
“We are not and never need be alone. We can press forward in our daily lives with heavenly help. Through the Savior’s Atonement we can receive capacity and “strength beyond [our] own” (“Lord, I Would Follow Thee,”Hymns, no. 220). As the Lord declared, “Therefore, continue your journey and let your hearts rejoice; for behold, and lo, I am with you even unto the end” (D&C 100:12).”
How easy it is to forget when we are wallowing in our pain or our difficulty that there is someone to help us. We feel alone. This simple statement “We are not and never need be alone” has two very powerful messages in it. The first, the Savior is always with us, to help us, strengthen us, guide us, succor us. The second part is that we must CHOOSE not to be alone. It is up to us to make those covenants that bind us to Him and share the yoke. If we feel alone, it is not because we are, but because we have removed ourselves from feeling his love, his strength, his help. Do not forget him, do not forget to draw closer to him and LET him help you. You are not alone and you never have to feel alone.