In a high percentage of the population of this earth people really don't have time to do much thinking about who they are and where they're going. Like Lazarus at the rich man's gate, they, have all they can do to just stay alive. The one thing in their minds is survival. To earn a little food,

some clothing,

some shelter.   One day we too may get a taste of what that's like.

Meanwhile we, who live in a place where there are dozens of ways to survive without even trying, carry a burden within us which is far more devastating to our souls than the burden of survival.

We have;

- food in our stomachs,

- clothing on our backs,

- cars parked out front,

- dozens of gadgets to do our work for us.

But we have to face the fact that physical survival just heightens the pain of spiritual death. Now that I have enough to eat and a house to live in, I'm faced with the problem of how to escape being boring little old me the rest of my life.

Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God say, 'You shall not eat of any tree of the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die."' But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.... Genesis 3:1-7a

When Satan got Eve dissatisfied with just being Eve so that now she won't be content until by eating that fruit she becomes like God, knowing good and evil, he has already enslaved her and for all practical purposes killed her. We know exactly how Eve felt. We feel it every morning when we get up.

- Yes, even we who have been born again of water and of the Spirit, and have eaten of the Tree of Life just as Eve had.

There is in us a desire to transcend ourselves, to get beyond ourselves, to escape what we now are in to something greater. The Tree of Life in the midst of the Garden has already offered us a way to escape ourselves into unspeakable peace, into the very heart of God. The Tree of Life says,

"Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls... For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."  Matthew 11:28-30

We can escape the narrow confines of self and start moving in the infinite spaces, the glorious liberty of the sons of God, simply by drawing near to Jesus and getting under His yoke. But instead of doing this most of us like Eve are still fascinated by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is symbolized by a pedestal. Satan shows us a magnificent white marble pedestal that reaches up to the very heavens,. It has golden stairs winding around it and it is surrounded by admirers and worshipers and fluffy pink clouds. Satan. says to us,

"This pedestal belongs to you. You can escape the prospect of being your boring little self if you will draw near and start climbing."

Many of us are busy climbing our pedestal even now. With our mouths we say all the right things about the Christian faith, and we do much that convinces ourselves and those around us that we are serious about following Jesus.

But in our hearts we're busy climbing the golden stairs of our marble pedestal.

For people who have not yet tasted the grace of God, the steps up the pedestal are less subtle. Alcohol and drugs, for instance, are an attempt to climb the pedestal of self-transcendence. For those who are still trying that route --- it's important that you see what you're really trying to do.... you're trying to escape your boring little self by climbing the golden stairs of chemically induced unreality,

- Others are trying to climb out of themselves through sexual fulfilment.

- Others are climbing the stairs by trying to achieve great things in the eyes of men.

- Others think they've found an elevator up the pedestal. They just turn on the T.V. and sit down and let some mass fantasy carry them up to the top.

- Others by the millions have found the escalator of pop religion. Positive thinking, positive confession and happy thoughts lift them up into the fluffy pink clouds.

But what does this great marble pedestal with the golden stairs really bring? Exactly what it brought Adam and Eve: anxiety...both on the way up and when you think you've reached the top.

Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, "Where are you?" And he said, "I heard the sound of thee in the garden, and I hid myself."                                                     Genesis 3:7-10

When we try to escape what we are by climbing the pedestal we end up running and stumbling and hiding from God --- even if we think we're very religious. The Pharisee in the temple praying, "God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are..." was praying from his pedestal. He was praying in total darkness. And he was bound to wake up one day and find his pedestal crumbling under his feet.

He who exalts himself will be humbled.

The pedestal always comes down --- always!

At that time Jesus declared, "I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou has hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will. All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."                     Matthew 11:25-30

If you really want to escape your boring little self and find meaning and rest in the very heart of God, this is the way. Not by climbing a pedestal, but by deliberately coming under a yoke.

"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I an gentle and lowly in heart, and-you will find rest for your souls..."

What does this mean? Taking the yoke --- the wooden bar that joins two oxen together --- means three things:

1. It means that we learn from Jesus, by laboring at His side.

What Jesus has to teach us is not learned by taking notes and memorizing formulas and principles going to seminars ... reading books. We learn from Jesus by doing what He's doing --- with Him --- under the yoke. So if Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost, we get out there and do it with Him. If the Spirit of the Lord is upon Jesus to preach good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives, open the eyes of the blind, we follow at His side in the place where we are ... doing these very things.

- If Jesus goes about doing good,

- we go about doing good.

- If Jesus lays down His life,

- we lay down our lives.

We never minister God's life to a single soul by ourselves. We do it under the yoke with Jesus. (If we're not ministering under the yoke with Jesus, then we're ministering from a pedestal. And when we minister from a pedestal, the issue of our ministry will ultimately be death)

2. To take the yoke means that we learn from Jesus what it is to be meek and lowly of heart. .

If we spent half the strength we expend climbing the golden stairs of the pedestal on learning from Jesus what it means to be meek and lowly of heart, awesome things would start happening in our ministries.

- Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

- Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.

- Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.

These people have no desire to climb the pedestal anymore. They have found that the divine fulfilment their hearts thirst for is waiting in the lowest room, in a stable, at a cross, in the company of this world's rejects.

When we divest ourselves of all self-importance and find our worth in the simple fact that God has called us to be His, we are content to walk that low road that Jesus walks. God himself, who first caused the light to explode in the darkness, reveals himself in Jesus as the God who rules, not by force, but by unspeakable mercy and mysterious lowliness. We will never learn this on the pedestal. We will only learn it under the yoke. God help as to learn it!

3. To take the yoke means that we find rest for our souls.

"Here I am 30 years old and what have I accomplished?"

"I've been a Christian for 40 years and what do I have to show for it?"

- The language of the pedestal ... the language of anxiety and despair.

When we're under the yoke we no longer have to justify our existence by our achievements. We are where God has called us to be ... under the yoke with Jesus ... laboring, learning, rejoicing in being able to walk in His mercy. And here we have rest --- divine rest --- even while we work, even while we pull down the very strongholds of Satan.

If your soul has not found rest, it is because you're still on the pedestal. Forsake the pedestal for the yoke of Christ and you will have peace.

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

There are two ways which offer us an escape from the dreary prospect of going on and on being who we are.

- One is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

- The other is the Tree of Life.

It's either the pedestal or the yoke. Every moment of our lives we are making the choice,

- until the choice is fixed forever!