This Week on Soul Talks
We know that Jesus is loving, holy, compassionate, and powerful. On closer examination of his life in the book of Mark, we see he repeatedly handles stressful situations with a relaxed approach. We may struggle with stress and anxiety both in relationships and ministry. Yet our relaxed and loving Lord is a wonderful example of resting in the easy yoke!
In this episode of Soul Talks, Bill and Kristi focus on Jesus’ approach to life and ministry. He is our perfect example of walking in the easy yoke of the Father. You too can learn this way of life from our Lord, finding the freedom and rest he offers.
Resources for this episode:
- Follow Soul Shepherding on Instagram
- Follow Soul Shepherding on Facebook
- Your Best Life in Jesus’ Easy Yoke
- Soul Shepherding Store
- Soul Shepherding Institute
- Soul Shepherding Network
A Relaxed and Fruitful Life With Jesus Transcript
Bill and Kristi Gaultiere
Let’s have a Soul Talk.
Today we are going to talk about relaxing in Jesus’ easy yoke.
Our topic is “Talk to Jesus and Relax.”
We’ve done a series of Instagram posts, Kristi, on “Talk to Jesus.” They are some of our most popular posts.
I am so thankful that just the other day we crossed over 50,000 followers on Instagram and it’s so fun.
So many of you are on Instagram with us, following Jesus with us there, and getting little bite sized appetizer reminders each day on the importance of our feelings, our faith, and being healthy relationally and emotionally.
We love sharing those little snippets of content with you on Instagram.
If you’re not following Soul Shepherding on Instagram, that’s easy to do.
We heard from one of our followers saying, “Hey, my best friend and I just finished reading your book, Your Best Life in Jesus’ Easy Yoke. Thank you so much for your labor of love, the courage you modeled, and the gates of living waters you opened.”
Yes. Gates of living waters you opened. Wouldn’’t that be true for all of us?
She said, “We were so thirsty after years of academic faith.”
It’s good to have academic faith, but if it’s only academic faith, we need some intimacy with God in there.
We need to experience this easy yoke that Jesus teaches us.
So this person says “We are so excited to have discovered the love of Jesus again! Blessings on Soul Shepherding.”
We are so thankful for that testimony, Kristi, because that’s the most important thing to us, right?
That we, and anybody that we could touch and talk with, to rediscover and re-appreciate the love of Jesus.
Reconnect, reignite relationally with Jesus, his life, and his Spirit — ongoing interaction that’s not just head knowledge.
It’s not just something we know informationally, but we know in reality, experientially.
It’s also our relationship with Jesus.
Of course, when we relate with Jesus, we relate with the whole Trinity — Father and Spirit also.
Also our relationship with Jesus is not only a private thing.
It is a private personal thing, but it’s also communal.
So Jesus gives us his new commandment to love one another.
Relationships of soul friendship are one example of loving one another. That’s an important part of our relationship with Jesus.
It’s part of how we grow in our experience of the Lord’s love.
Our faith is not only academic.
It’s not only something we think about and study—it is that— but it’s also something we can experience and feel.
It’s relational with the Lord, but also relational with one another.
That’s one of the reasons why you put in the Your Best Life in Jesus’ Easy Yoke book, experiences, experiments, and spiritual disciplines that you can do with each chapter to apply the learning experientially.
Then also questions to be able to share in community, in a small group, or with a soul friend or a marriage partner.
Jesus is Relaxed and Fruitful
So like this Instagram follower, to read a book with a friend or in a small group is a super helpful way of learning because it brings in that relational dynamic.
And so we have all of our books and resources on Soul Shepherding.
If you’ve never been to the Soul Shepherding Store, you just go to soulshepherding.org, follow the tag Shop, and you’ll see over 30 different resources — books, booklets, webinars, videos — lots of tools for you and for your ministry.
They’re all written in such a way that they guide us into personal experiences in our relationship with the Lord of honest expression of things that we’re struggling with.
They can be shared with a friend, a group, a class, or a whole church so that we are learning together.
So we’re supporting each other in relationally, emotionally, healthy discipleship to Jesus.
One of our Bible studies that we share in the Your Best Life in Jesus’ Easy Yoke book and in the Soul Shepherding Institute —it’s one of my favorite ones — is Jesus is Relaxed and Fruitful.
We love these Bible studies that focus on Jesus as a human being.
Of course, Jesus is also the perfect Son of God, but he also set aside the privileges of being God.
We read in Philippians 2, where he came to earth and became fully human.
So as he lives his human life, he’s not living with special advantages of omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, perfect love and all this being automatic.
Jesus does express perfect love, but he does that by faith in God.
The Bible teaches us to not only put our faith in Jesus, the Son of God, but to practice the faith of Jesus as he has faith in God the Father, God the Spirit, and so forth.
One Word to Describe Jesus
So this Bible study was in part prompted because of one of the times you went up to meet Dallas for lunch.
Dallas Willard was one of our mentors.
He threw out to you the question, “What one word would you use to describe Jesus?”
Yeah. I tell that whole story at the beginning of the Your Best Life in Jesus’ Easy Yoke book.
When he asked me what my one word was, it was such an interesting question.
I never thought of that — if you could only use one word for Jesus.
So of course I thought about love and Lord and compassion and holy and things like that.
But I didn’t say any of them out loud to Dallas because I could tell he had a word, and I wanted to hear what his word was.
So there was a long pause while he let me think.
That’s what he liked to do. This is what great teachers do. They set your hair on fire.
Dallas certainly did that as a teacher in all the many thousands of hours we spent following him around the country, getting CDs and stuff of him teaching, and listening to that over and over.
But he would set your hair on fire by saying something that contradicts the prevailing general assumption.
Or he asks a question that really gets you scratching your head, and your brain heating up, trying to figure out how to think about this.
So his word for Jesus was relaxed.
I had two immediate responses.
One is, “Well, that’s kind of a weak word that doesn’t seem very robust.”
But this is Dallas Willard saying this.
So I thought there must be more to this. Then I quickly had the thought and the feeling like, “Yeah, I’m not very relaxed.”
Then the more I thought about it, I was like, “Yeah, how was Jesus relaxed with all that he had to do?”
Just again, looking at Jesus, a human being, who had to do the hardest job of any person who ever lived.
He had to prove that he was the Savior of the world and do it to 12 men and some women, basically on a three year camping trip.
It’s like, “How did he do that?”
I mean, he did miracles, and he was holy, and had perfect love and all of this.
But still, it took a lot to convince people that he was divine, that he was an eternal member of the Trinity, and that he had taken on human flesh.
Yet he was relaxed!
So then just as a psychologist, really exploring that more deeply and realizing, “Yeah, well, we can have more than one feeling and attitude at a time to be relaxed.”
It normally includes emotion, but there was also an attitude, a bodily posture, and a demeanor for how we’re engaging with people.
Jesus’ capacity to be that way wasn’t automatic.
It was something that he grew in.
Luke tells us that Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man.
Hebrews tells us that Jesus learned obedience from what he suffered.
So the sinless Son of God, somehow was being perfected.
Even under stress, Jesus is relaxed.
Even when Jesus is grieving, or expresses anger, or is in travail in the garden of Gethsemane, or in excruciating suffering on the cross — at the same time — there is a heavenly heaven sent relaxation, a trust coming to him as well.
Jesus’ Easy Yoke
You kind of went on a hunt in scripture to see this, and to look at Jesus’ life to see, “Where is this true?”
“Where might I have missed this?”
“Where have I not appreciated this about Jesus?”
Yes. That’s where the Bible study came from.
Every chapter in the Your Best Life in Jesus’ Easy Yoke book has a Bible study on the life of Jesus, as it relates to stress, anxiety, conflict, low self-esteem, anger, hurry — different things that we deal with in the realm of stress and anxiety.
So the point was, “Okay, let’s look at Jesus and how he dealt with that.”
Basically I just took the line from Dallas that Jesus is relaxed and I just went real deep with that.
I took Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 11 on the easy yoke.
We began with a Lectio Divina, a scripture meditation, on Jesus’ teaching on the easy yoke.
Come to me all, you are weary and heavy laden and take my yoke upon you, and you’ll find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
These famous words of Jesus, just looking at that in context, and then just applying that to all the different situations of stress in our life.
This Bible study on Jesus is Relaxed and Fruitful is one of my favorites.
Let’s just go through that like we do in the Institute. In the Institute we read these Bible studies.
It’s just one of the things that we do at different sessions where we’re sitting in a circle, usually about 30 of us.
We’ll read a bullet point or a scripture that’s in one of these Bible studies, and everybody takes turns.
Then we squeeze the sponge, we call it.
People will share their thoughts, their questions, and how this is relating to their life and their ministry.
Gosh, we have such great conversations in those settings.
Jesus’ Approach to Ministry and Relationships
So the first one here is from Mark 1:12-13, when it’s time for Jesus to launch his public ministry, he’s unhurried.
He goes to the desert to pray for 40 days. That’s a different view, a different frame.
Yeah, because I think we tend to think about those 40 days of temptation, fasting, being in the desert, and solitude, and just sort of feel — maybe — sorry for Jesus.
Like that was really hard, and Satan’s tempting him and everything.
We kind of missed the point that, well, this is a spiritual retreat.
Jesus is on a very extended retreat, and Jesus is spiritually speaking.
He’s actually not weak. He’s strong. He’s at his strongest point.
He’s not just fasting from food. He’s feasting on God’s word.
He’s not just reacting to Satan tempting him.
He’s being very proactive and he’s praying about his mission to launch his public ministry and what it means for him to be the Messiah of the world.
He’s talking to the Father about this and praying, and he’s resolving that he’s not going to do this in his own power, which is an amazing thing.
The Son of God is not going to act in his own power.
He’s going to only do what the Father says and does, we read in John’s gospel.
He is working all this through there in the wilderness, and he is unhurried.
That’s just really important to remember for all of us in our ministry, our leadership, as we shepherd and care for people.
It starts in being unhurried — starts in a soul connection with God.
So next bullet point here, when Jesus’ family tries to manipulate him in front of a crowd, he calmly sets a boundary.
This is in Mark 3:31-34.
Actually a couple times in Mark, and we see this in other gospels as well, where Jesus’ mother and brothers, and perhaps his sisters as well, put some pressure on him.
I’m sure they mean well, especially Mary, but there’s some not very helpful things that they say and do there.
Jesus has some boundaries that he says in love, of course.
He speaks the truth in love to them and says things like that when they were trying to get him to come back home, and probably get back to earning some money for the family, and have dinner with them, and help out around the house, or see some more customers in the carpenter shop, or something like that.
Jesus effectively says, “Well, no, I’m not going to do that. I’m doing what God’s calling me to do now. And see all these people at my feet, listening to me? These are my brothers and my sisters and my mother too. And the most important thing that you can do is to obey the Lord. That’s what these people are doing.”
So effectively, Jesus is inviting them to come on in and be a part of this teaching.
They do that later, but apparently not at this point in time.
So to be relaxed in God’s presence like Jesus, we need to be able to set good boundaries, and we need to be able to speak the truth in love.
He does that in a way that isn’t reactive.
He’s not reacting to the pressure they’re putting on him in a way that sometimes we would react humanly.
So it’s a good example of him being relaxed and trusting his Father, even with his family whom he cares about, in order to set that boundary.
He doesn’t get angry.
He doesn’t get defensive.
He doesn’t go into guilt and shame.
He stays calm. He stays in God’s love.
He has compassion for himself.
He has compassion for his mother and brothers and sisters.
He has compassion for all the people, all the disciples at his feet that want to learn from him.
Jesus’ Response to Stress
So that’s an example of fruit.
He’s fruitful too, and he’s relaxed and fruitful.
It’s good fruit that’s coming out from him in that.
So then in Mark 6:32-44, when the crowds interrupt his retreat, he patiently feeds them.
He has taken the disciples, John the Baptist has died, and they’ve been sent out, come back, and want to talk to him.
And he says, “Come away with me to get some rest.”
Then they get to the other side and the crowds are there pressing in, and he teaches them.
And they’re pressing in for a long time and they haven’t eaten and they need food.
He feeds them. That’s one of the miraculous feedings.
The next one here is when Jesus sees loan sharks and hucksters turning his Father’s house into a marketplace and taking advantage of the poor.
He takes time to weave a rope to then drive out those hucksters, those money changers, and manipulators out of the temple.
Think about Jesus. He’s not like a madman here.
Sometimes this gets portrayed as though Jesus is just flying off the handle with rage.
Of course we would say it’s a holy anger, but I don’t think that’s what Jesus is doing.
What he’s doing is an act of love, most obviously for the poor, who are being taken advantage of, and to restore worship in the temple.
But also for the merchants, the money changers, and the religious leaders who have turned the Father’s house into a marketplace.
He’s doing this out of love for them.
He’s not harming anybody. He’s loving people. He did this in patience and in calmness.
Sometimes we project unhealthy, unloving, human anger onto Jesus and onto God.
That’s not the truth. So if we read any scriptures and are coming away with that, we’re missing the point.
He wasn’t all enraged.
This was probably a very chaotic place, a very loud place.
He probably needed that whip in order to get attention, not to do harm.
He probably raised his voice as a preacher might do.
Yeah. I think it’s tragic when sometimes we see this portrayed or imagine this as if Jesus is abusive and violent.
Well maybe we’ve done enough of these.
We’re starting to run out of time, but the point here is that you can get the rest of these bullet points in our book, Your Best Life in Jesus’ Easy Yoke.
Or join our Soul Shepherding Network, and you can get the Bible study there.
We have lots of tools, hundreds of tools. We are adding webinars.
Every month, a couple more webinars are going on there.
I think we’ve got about 25 webinars in there now that Kristi and I and some of our staff have done.
There are so many different ways that you can learn and grow.
Regarding our Vault, one of our participants who just joined the Soul Shepherding Network said,
When I went through the Soul Shepherding Vault last week, I almost hyperventilated in a good way! My heart raced as I looked at resource upon resource, and I still have many more to see. My heart is to lead women’s retreats. Now I don’t have to reinvent the wheel. I can incorporate so much of this material — what an amazing gold mine. Thank you!
That’s the Soul Shepherding Network.
We made that for you as a small group leader, shepherd, pastor, missionary, and soul friend.
It’s full of branded resources that are one to two pages, graphically designed, really clean and really handy.
They’re for your devotions or for you to help somebody else — all integrating Christ-centered psychology and spirituality.
So these are tools for retreats, for spiritual direction sessions, for coaching sessions, for small groups, and for discipleship to Jesus that is emotionally and spiritually whole.
That’s another way that you can get this material.
The point of this conversation that we’ve had with you is to really appreciate Jesus as relaxed, even under stress.
As we meditate on that, as we study the scriptures under that, as we pray about that, it helps because we become like what we worship.
As we worship the Son of God, it helps us become more that way.
Especially if we’re emotionally honest with the Lord in our prayers and with one another, working through our shortcomings and our stress points to receive God’s mercy and God’s grace.
Then increasingly we can become more relaxed even in the challenges of life, even in stress, even in conflict.
Jesus, how grateful we are to you, that you are our mediator.
That you bring us into this great relationship with God the Father, and your Spirit, and this fellowship and the community where we receive love, care, all that we need such that we can relax into you.
Jesus, we thank you that you’re also our model.
We look at the way that you lived this life of perfect responsive obedience and trust to your Father, such that you were able to be relaxed in stressful and difficult situations.
There was such fruit that came from your life.
Lord, we pray that you will continue to help us to see you as you are.
To grow in our worship of you, our adoration of you, our discipleship to you, our devotion to you, and our surrendering of our souls to be formed more and more in your likeness Lord.
More and more to experience this life you give us an abundance of love and joy and peace of being relaxed, yoked to you, dependent upon you.
Thank you, Jesus. This is the good news you invite us into and it’s real.