"It is good for a man
that he bear the yoke in his youth"
I was raised in the Serra Nevada Mountains, and my closest neighbor was four miles away. We lived in a summer home track, so others lived there for about three months out of the year, but basically, for most of the year it was only my family. This was a problem for me as a teenager who wanted to play sports, with no one to practice with except my two younger brothers, who were five to nine years younger than I. It was about 14 miles to school by the school bus, and thus too far to walk to school or from it after practice if I wanted to play school sports. I said to my mom that I thought I could be good enough to play baseball at school if I only had the opportunity. She said that she would buy me a uniform from a secondhand store and that if I just took the bus to school and after school went directly to practice, that it would work out. As to getting home, she thought she could talk dad into picking me up after practice. I was happy to try it, and Mom bought me a uniform, which did not exactly fit, but it would pass. When I went to practice, the coach put me in right field.
Now there is not much happening in right field. It seemed the biggest thing one needs to do out there is stay awake because hardly anyone hits a ball there. Still, I was playing baseball, and that was all that mattered.
Now when my dad was upset, he sometimes slammed his pickup truck door, a sound I was familiar with. And I was out in right field, and I thought I heard that recognizable sound. I turned in the direction of the noise and then heard my dad holler in front of everyone, "Garry, get over here!" Embarrassing! I did not say good-bye to the coach or anyone but ran out to my dad's truck and got in. That was the last day of my "baseball career." Someone may think, "Oh, you would not have been any good anyway." Yeah, maybe not. All the way home in my dad's pickup, I got to hear, "I am a working man. I don't have time for sports. If you think I am going to come here every day and pick you up, that's not going to happen!" Of course I did not say anything. Once we were home, my dad went into the kitchen and thought he would tell Mom what he thought of her idea. I didn't even care. I just walked down the hall to my room and sat there on my bed, and then lay there on my bed, and thought, "Other kids get to play sports. Why can't I play sports?"
While I was having my pity party, God looked down from heaven and said, "Good!" What was good about it? "It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth." A yoke is something a farmer puts on a bull or mule to get it to turn in the direction he wants. The farmer will have reins attached to this yoke, and no matter how much that mule wants to go back to the feeding trough, or how stubborn it might me, still the mule will go plow more because the farmer will jerk the reins and twist its neck around with the yoke. And young people have a yoke on them by their parents. Dad and Mom make the decisions, and sometimes there not what we want. Now you can get rid of that yoke if you want. Just sneak out the window after you parents go to bed, steal your neighbor’s car or you parents', and go on a joy ride. Of course, you may kill someone or cripple someone and have to live with that the rest of your life, but anyone can be rebellious and pay the consequences.
I should stop here and say that I love my dad. I love him more than any other man on the planet! It was just not going to work out according to "Garry's plan." I do not know what is important to you, but that was important to me, but it was not to be. Did I get bitter about it? I went out the next day and went fishing, and forgot about it.
I do not know if God cares about baseball or who wins, the score, or any sport, but God cares about how we will respond when we get out necks jerked around by the yoke of our parents. And God looked down from heaven, and I imagined He said, "Very good! And I am glad you did not talk back to your dad." God was just preparing me for something else. If you cannot obey your parents, whom you see, how can you obey God, whom you cannot see?
"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 11:29-30)
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By G. M. Matheny
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