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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Work (07/27/06)

TITLE: What a Yoke!
By Jacqueline Zerres


“Stiff-necked youth. Will he never learn?” The farmer had little patience with the new hire. He was glad that he had a faithful worker in Moe and he was more than willing to leave the young rogue in his care.

Moe sized up this new green upstart. He was thick-skinned and stubborn. His body was well muscled and fit for this kind of work, but he did nothing but complain. His face was grimy and his short brown coat was caked with mud. He had fallen several times in the mucky field and all because he wouldn’t listen to instructions.

“Tired of getting filthy?” Moe yanked the youth upright as he stumbled yet again.

“I don’t like this work. It’s dirty and menial. I don’t see why you have to train me, either. You’re old.”

“I’m experienced. It’s what I do. You’ll get used to it.”

“I don’t want to get used to it. It’s hot out here and the work is too hard. We’ve gone over the same ground forever. And I can’t even tell you how tired I am.”

“If you’d stop grumbling and relax, we’d be able to finish up sooner.”

“Relax? I can’t relax! You work me to death.” The young stud was obviously agitated. He continued to complain and chaff at the labor he was given to do.

Moe had been through this before with others. Some were worse than Ben. The work was hard but over time most of them came around to his way of doing things.

“Sorry that you signed on for this?” the instructor asked him after the day was over.

“What do you think?”

Moe ignored his lamentation and examined young Ben. He was bleeding, his skin rubbed raw from the day’s drudgery. “Are you hurting?”

“I’ll live,” was all he said.

The next day, they were up before dawn. “I’m tired,” Ben whined. “I can’t handle any more of this. It’s unfair that I have to carry so much. Why can’t I do it my way?”

“Son, if you will just trust me, I promise that things will get better.” The elder was tired of listening to him protest, but knew from experience that his apprentice would learn. He remained patient.

The weeks passed and Ben grew accustomed to Moe’s ways. He didn’t gripe as much and was actually keeping in step with his tutor. The training was nearly complete. He would soon be fit for the required work.

The farmer arrived to see what progress had been made. His son, Jethro, tagged along.

“Moe, you’re teaching Ben well. You make a good team.”

His sidekick received a look of approval. He was proud of how the young guy was responding.

The farmer smiled and patted him on the back as he led the way to the field. “Yep,” he said to the old bull, “he’ll do just fine.” He hooked the yoke over Moe’s neck and than over the neck of young Ben. The elder bellowed, but the youth, joined to his partner by the wooden restraint, merely lowed.

The farmer instructed his son. “When Ben, here, came to serve me, I yoked him to Moe. I knew it would be a good match, for he was the more experienced bull and had already learned obedience from the things he’d suffered. He did most of the labor. The brunt of the burden fell on him, but this calf fought the yoke so hard that he was beaten up and weary. He would attempt to run ahead, but each time the old bull restrained him. He soon understood his lesson, though.”

“What was that, Pop?”

“He learned that he didn’t have to work so hard. He could stop fighting and walk alongside the one who was able to bear the load. The less he resisted, the easier it became. It’s a shame that he had to find out the hard way, though. He could have saved himself a lot of grief if he didn’t defy his patient trainer.”

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11: 28-30 (NIV)

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Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 08/04/06
Great characterization of the animals - I definitely didn't figure it out until you told me outright! Fabulous story will a well woven in lesson. Thanks for sharing it!
Lynda Schultz 08/04/06
Excellent lesson presented in a very creative way. I liked it! One question (and I am asking out of ignorance so don't know for sure) - I didn't think that farmers used bulls to plough - too volatile. But this was great stuff anyway.
Dolores Stohler08/09/06
I loved this for the lesson it taught. Good illustration but it should have been oxen, not bulls. It was well written though. Nice work!
Sandra Petersen 08/09/06
Wonderful lesson! The dialogue was excellent! I'm not sure about the use of bulls to plow, but that seemed a minor point easily corrected.

Great twist at the end when we find out the complaining 'field hand' was actually a plow animal being trained for the yoke. All that time, I was thinking Moe should plant a size thirteen boot to the young guy's lazy bottom! Laugh's on me!

Great job!