"It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth"
I was raised in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and my closest neighbor was four miles away. We lived in a summer home track, but most others lived there for one to three months out of the year; so 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 from my house, too far to walk if I wanted to play school sports.
One day I told my mom that I thought I could be good enough to play baseball on the school team if I only had the opportunity. She said that she would buy me a uniform from a secondhand store and that if I 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. 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 because I didn’t know what I was doing. 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.
As I was standing out in right field that first day of practice, waiting for that rare fly ball to enter my realm, I thought I heard a familiar sound, my dad’s truck door slamming. When my dad was upset, he would sometimes slam his pickup truck door, a very recognizable sound to me. 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.” 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!”
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 laid there on my bed, thinking, “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.” (Lamentations 3:27) In the Bible the yokes of a person, king, or a country meant that someone was ruling over another (Genesis 27:40, Jeremiah 30:8, Nahum 1:12-13). And young people have a yoke on them from their parents. Dad and Mom make the decisions, and sometimes they’re 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.
Lest there be any doubt, I love my dad more than any other man on the planet! Baseball 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, went fishing, and forgot about it. I do not know if God cares about baseball or who wins, the score, or any sport, but He cares about how we will respond when we get our necks jerked around by the yoke of our parents. I imagined God looked down from Heaven, and said, “Yes, this is very good! And I am glad you did not talk back to your dad.”
I believe God was just preparing me for His calling in my life, and that submitting to my parents was a greater lesson than getting my own way. 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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