"Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." Matthew 11:30
In ancient Persia, the highest honor that the King could bestow on a subject was to invite them to walk with him in his garden. He invited them into an intimacy that very few had opportunity of. To be asked into the very heart, mind, and thoughts of the greatest ruler their time had ever known was a gift too wonderful for words. No one would think to refuse him. No one would want to. Compare that to the people of God, who have a Father in heaven greater than any earthly king or emperor could ever be. Yet, in his greatness, He moment by moment invites those who are His into His company. Into His heart, mind, and thoughts. What greater honor could there be? It is an invitation not for a select few, but to all who would come to Him. Yet so few of us are willing to come at all.
It is beyond sad that we refuse Him. It is a tragedy. We give more attention and honor to the invitations of all who are not Him while ignoring all that He is. Most of us would leap at the opportunity to meet our favorite sports, entertainment, or political figure. We would not pass it up. We would honor them, while we fail to honor Him. Yet this is not the worst of it. It is not just people that we honor above Him. We honor our activities, hobbies, involvement in social media, and entertainments so much more than we will ever do so for Him. We spend far more time in their company than we ever do in His. What's more, these other people and things, and our devotion to them, usually become our masters and tyrants. Being with them takes from us, drains us, impoverishes us. They leave us empty. In the end, they leave us alone. Why do we go on choosing them? Could it be that we've never really experienced what it is to "keep company" with Him? Are we so weighed down with the heaviness of serving these thieves of His glory that we cannot hear His invite to come to Him and live....and be free? Since we cannot hear Him, we don't experience Him.
When Moses rebuked the Israelites for making a golden calf, he told them that they'd exchanged His glory for images of grass eating oxen. A horrible, even blasphemous exchange, but how often have we done the same? Where do we do it even now? What are the grass eating oxen in your life that you've exchanged the wonder of His Presence for?
I know this; those oxen, no matter how they might shine, will in the end destroy us. They can never give, never be to us what He is. With them, in their company, the burden of life will only get heavier. Jesus Christ issues these words in Matthew 11 to you and to me. This life that we are in will not cease to have it's "dangers, toils, and trials." That's a given. The greater "given" is Christ. He bids us to not only come to Him, but to stay with Him. To live in His company. Only in His company will we know the lightness of His freedom. You and I are going to keep company with something or someone. Will it be with the grass eating ox.....or the King Himself?