Taking Up Christ’s Yoke
About the Guest
Hannah Anderson, author of "Humble Roots," and Barbara Rainey talk about the need for humility as they seek to live within the boundaries God has drawn for them. Anderson shares that, as we embrace the story God is writing in us, we are free to flourish. We don't obtain humility by looking inward, but by getting on our faces before God and seeking to live our lives in obedience to His will.
Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul and All That’s Good: Recovering the Lost Art of Discernment...more
Hannah Anderson and Barbara Rainey talk about the need for humility as they seek to live within the boundaries God has drawn for them.
Taking Up Christ’s Yoke
Bob: Jesus said the key to finding rest in life is to take His yoke on us / to learn from Him for He is gentle and lowly in heart. Hannah Anderson says she remembers when she started understanding what it meant to follow Jesus.
Hannah: The Scripture says that He humbled Himself—He took on the form of human being—He humbled Himself becoming obedient to the point of death, even the death on a cross. So, suddenly, that opened up my understanding of what humility was. It wasn’t just saying certain phrases, or deflecting praise, or being quiet—it was living within the boundaries that God had ordained for my life.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, January 11th. Our host is Dennis Rainey; I'm Bob Lepine.
We’ll talk about the relationship between humility and finding rest today with our guest, Hannah Anderson. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. As I’ve talked with couples over the years, one of the things I’ve said is there is a verse in Philippians that I think, if couples could learn how to apply it in marriage, it would solve about 95 percent of their marriage issues.
Dennis: You have said this repeatedly, and I agree with you.
Bob: It’s the verse that says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility regard one another as more important than yourself.” Now, the thing is—trying to regard another person as more important than yourself—that can almost become a performance goal for people that can put them right back under a yolk of slavery.
Dennis: It can; and that passage goes on to say, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interest of others.” Now, the question is: “How do you do that?”
Bob: Well, verse 5 tells you that—it’s the mind of Christ / you have to have the Spirit of Christ to empower you to do that.
Dennis: Yes. It says, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who,”—speaking of Christ—“though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Bob: If those verses are not highlighted in your Bible, you need to go get it out and highlight it. Even if you haven’t highlighted anything in your Bible, just go highlight those verses today.
Dennis: No doubt about it.
We’re talking with Hannah Anderson this week, and we brought Barbara into the studio because she’s actually the one who brought this book to the broadcast.
Bob: She brought Hannah into the studio. [Laughter]
Dennis: She did; she sure did. Welcome back, Sweetie.
Barbara: Thanks. I’m glad to be here and enjoy this conversation with you; because I loved Hannah’s book, and we’re glad to have her back. So, welcome back today.
Hannah: I am thrilled to be here.
Dennis: Name of the book is Humble Roots. And I have to tell you, Hannah—I didn’t tell you this earlier—but evidently, you have been impacted by a book that impacted me, early in my Christian faith. It’s not that I no longer have a pride problem; in fact, I think of the great quote by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn—he says, “Pride grows on the human heart like lard on a pig.” [Laughter] We all struggle with pride; but I read a book, early on, in my Christian walk by Andrew Murray called Humility: The Beauty of Holiness.
It just points out that humility is—at the very core, not only of how you become a Christian in surrendering to Christ—but ultimately, how you become like Christ as you walk with Him.
Earlier, we were reading Matthew, Chapter 11, where Jesus makes a profound invitation and command. He says, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and”—He promises—“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 load is light.”
We’ve already talked about, Hannah, how Jesus bids us come to Him. He is alive / He defeated death—He can make that invitation today. Secondly, He commands us to take His yolk on us, which is surrendering to Him—His command / under His leadership—and then, He says to us, “Learn from Me.”
That’s really what your book is about—learning the humility of Christ.
Hannah: Yes. As we have talked about already, this verse in Matthew 11 became a lifeline for me in the midst of feeling overwrought, and anxious, and burdened just by good things in my life and lacking peace.
The first step I had to take was really submitting myself to God’s transcendence / His lordship, but the next step was I had to learn humility—that is part of what He calls us to. I don’t know that I ever understood humility as something that you learn or grow into. Quite frankly, I don’t know that I ever really understood it well at all. It’s something that we talk about / it’s something we know we should have, but we don’t really know what the Scripture is talking about when it calls us to humility.
I am so glad that you mentioned Andrew Murray’s book; because, without that book, Humble Roots would not exist.
That was very important framing for me—to understand humility as core to a Christian walk / core to the nature of Christ, Himself.
Dennis: So, what is humility?
Hannah: Humility is rightly understanding who God has made us to be. It is not thinking of ourselves lower than who God has made us to be, and it’s not thinking of ourselves higher than who God has made us to be. I think, a lot of times, we’re tempted to think of a humble person as someone who is self-deprecating, or they turn away praise, or they have kind of a complex of their own sinfulness.
Dennis: —or they have a reserved personality that’s kind of shy / kind of behind the scenes.
Hannah: The wallflower—
Hannah: —that’s the humble person.
Dennis: So, a person like me, who’s gregarious / you know, out-front—
Bob: I had a few words, but I’ll leave—gregarious is a good one.
Dennis: I’m glad you did, Bob. [Laughter] But I’ve never had anybody come up and say, “You have a personality of humility,”—no; it’s not that. You write humility isn’t a personality.
Hannah: No; it isn’t—it is an identity / it’s a way of being in the world. I don’t think I understood this until I actually pressed into the Scripture and saw how the Scripture defines humility. So, in this passage in Matthew, Christ says, “Learn from Me for I am meek and lowly.” That word, “lowly,” is the word, “humble”; right?—meek and humble. I started thinking: “Well, how does Christ display humility? What would it mean if Christ is humble?—and if Christ is humble, then, it can’t be linked to my sinfulness—because I know that Christ was not sinful. So, humility has to be something else.”
That sent me to Philippians 2, the passage that you read at the beginning of the broadcast.
Here, in Paul’s writing in Philippians 2, he tells us what Christ’s humility looked like. One of the key elements of Christ’s humility was that He was willing to live within the boundaries that God had ordained for His earthly life. The Scripture says that He humbled Himself—He took on the form of a human being—He humbled Himself becoming obedient to the point of death, even the death on a cross.
Suddenly, that opened up my understanding of what humility was. It wasn’t just saying certain phrases, or deflecting praise, or being quiet. It was living within the boundaries that God had ordained for my life—whether those were physical boundaries of having a physical body that needed to eat, and sleep, and rest, and needed to take Sabbath—
—whether that was the boundaries of my energy / the boundaries of my ability to influence people. Those were boundaries that God had ordained for me; and to be humble was to embrace the fact that I was limited—I was the creature, not the Creator.
Bob: You and your husband live in rural Virginia. You’re in an economically-depressed part of the country. I’m sure it would be easy to look at people, who are pastoring suburban churches that are thriving, and to think: “That’s the platform I need. That’s where I ought to be.” A part of humility is to say: “That’s not my call to make. I need to be where Jesus has put me.” Have you guys had to wrestle with the intentionality of where you are and why you are there?
Hannah: One of the greatest lessons that my husband and I have learned is to look at the scope of our life—of how God has been calling, and ordaining, and placing us from the very beginning.
Both my husband and I grew up in rural settings, in small country churches—it is part of who we are. He has ordained certain traits for who we are—He has given us certain giftings / certain personalities. Over the course of His sovereign choice to make us who we are / to give us the experiences that we’ve had, He has directed us and then called us to exactly where we are supposed to be and made us and equipped us to be in that space.
Now, we could fight against that; and it’s kind of like the piece of clay saying to the potter: “Why have you made me this way? Why have you chosen these things? Why have you given me these passions? Why have you given me these spaces?” But peace comes from saying: “This is exactly what You wanted.
“This is exactly the plan You have given me for my life, and I will live faithfully in that place where you have placed me.”
So, we are in a rural church—probably have about 70 on a Sunday morning. Sometimes, when we are on vacation, we’ll be at a different type of church or a larger church; and there is always the temptation to say: “Oh, okay; is that what I’m supposed to be doing? Is that what success looks like?” But coming back to this belief that God ordains / that God is the One who writes the story—and we simply submit ourselves to the calling He has—frees us, then, to flourish in spaces that maybe other people wouldn’t feel like they could flourish in.
Bob: Influence, though, over a congregation of 70—there has to be a part of you going:
“We should be influencing more than just 70 people every week. How kingdom effective can this be if all we’re doing is touching 70 people once a week?”
Hannah: Well, my husband and I have wrestled with that / we’ve talked about that. He has regularly said to me, “These souls matter to God.” Even as we look at rural communities, where churches are not thriving—it is no secret that churches are dying in rural communities—it would be easy to flee those spaces; but they are people made in God’s image who need pastoring, who need soul care, who need the truth of the Scripture. It’s really not up to us to say where the orders send us; you know? We get our commissioning from Christ, and He works with our desires and with our hearts.
He unites this beautiful vocation for us, as individuals, that will call us both to His glory and our own good; and quite frankly, I believe my husband and I were made for these spaces.
Barbara, I was telling you earlier how my husband and I met in college. One of the first things we connected around was the fact that he knew what spring peepers were. Now, I grew up in a rural setting; he grew up in a rural setting. I went off to college in the big city, and it was springtime. I was feeling very nostalgic and kind of homesick; and I would tell my friends, “I miss the spring peepers.”
Dennis: Oh, I’m going to find out if Bob knows what a spring peeper is. [Laughter]
Bob: I’m just sitting here, thinking about Peeps, because they come out in the spring. [Laughter]
Barbara: —in the spring / in a box, and they’re yellow.
Bob: But I’m imagining there may be some connection between the little marshmallow chickens and the spring peepers you’re talking about?
Hannah: If you gave that answer—that would be the answer that every one of my new friends gave and absolutely decimated my soul, because that is not what spring peepers are. [Laughter]
Barbara: A swing and a miss!
Bob: I’m sorry. [Laughter]
Dennis: Continue on with your story, back with Barbara.
Bob: —now that your soul is decimated again. [Laughter]
Hannah: I was homesick, and all I wanted to do was hear the tree frogs that are in Appalachia. They live in the creeks and the ponds, and they start singing in March. You know spring is coming when you drive down—you roll down your window, and you hear them for the first time.
I run into this young man, who is from Virginia, and I say, “Oh, I miss the spring peepers.” He immediately, within seconds, responds: “I know. I love those tree frogs.” God, in ordaining our separate paths—[Laughter]
Barbara: Isn’t that fun?
Hannah: —brought us together—
Barbara: —around spring peepers. [Laughter]
Bob: The power of the tree frog to bring a husband and a wife together; wow! [Laughter]
Hannah: But it was our shared backgrounds that God ordained to bring us together; and, I believe, to ultimately place us in a community that He had prepared us for long before we ever knew that’s where we would be.
Dennis: And back to this subject of humility, I just want to remind our listeners where you get that; because you don’t get it by looking inward—you look outward and upward. It’s back to a quote that I’m increasingly making, here, on FamilyLife Today because I think it’s at the core of an attempt to walk with Jesus Christ. It’s by Tozer, who said, “The most important thing about you is what you think about God.” Now, why is that?—because it’s only as you see God for who He is you’ll rightly evaluate who you are. Hannah said that at the beginning of the broadcast.
And if you want to know how to get humility, you don’t try to search your soul to try to press it down and make it less.
You look upward to find out who He is and how He made you—and that’s a great illustration of what you’ve just gave about how He made you—and be preoccupied with who He is.
Hannah: I think that’s the fascinating thing about Philippians 2—is we have this extended passage talking about Christ’s humility and how He became a servant. Often, we want to inject ourselves into that passage and talk about being Christ’s hands and feet on this earth; or we’re going to incarnate our lives the same way Christ was incarnated; but in that passage, we aren’t Christ / we aren’t in this passage; but it’s in the verses that we haven’t read yet.
This is verse 9: “Therefore God has highly exalted Him”—Christ—“and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”
We’re in that passage, face down, on our knees before Christ.
I think the Messiah complex—we subtly slip into it when we begin to think of ourselves as Jesus rather than ourselves worshipping Jesus, who has been high and lifted up. As we long for humility to take root in our soul—as you said, Dennis—the only way that happens is by seeing Christ for who He is; and we are humbled because we see Him high and lifted up.
Bob: You know, as you were talking about learning from Christ what humility looks like, my mind immediately went to the moment in the Garden of Gethsemane, where He was pouring out His heart to the Father about what was coming. He ended His prayer with humility, “Not My will, Thy will be done,” in the high priestly prayer.
Right before that, He said, “I glorified You on earth having accomplished the work that You gave Me to do.”
Jesus was never self-directed—He lived a life that was continually connected to what God had called Him to do. And to find the rest that Jesus is talking about, when He says: “Come to Me all you who are weary and heavy laden. I’ll give you rest,”—we find that rest when we are living our lives in obedience to what God’s called us to do and not bringing our own agenda in and saying, “But I’d like this, and this, and this, and this.”
Hannah: Yes; and it’s counterintuitive, because we see Christ living in complete submission to the Father; but He also lived the fullest, most abundant human life that ever existed.
In [the Book of] John, He also tells us He comes to bring us life and to bring it more abundantly than we’ve ever known.
So often, when we talk about surrendering to the Father—submitting to the Father’s will/ relinquishing control—we can easily slip into this fear that, if we do that, our lives will somehow be less—we won’t be as happy as we might have been; we won’t be as productive as we might have been; we won’t be as at peace as we might have been. The opposite is true—not only did Christ come to earth to be obedient to death—He came to be obedient to life and to show us what it means to live the fully-formed peace-filled existence that God intends for us, as human beings.
Barbara: I really agree with that; because I think the longer I walk in the Christian life, the more I’m realizing that it’s that interrelationship that I have with Christ that is what people see.
If we are going to make a difference in the world in which we live, it’s not by how much we accomplish; but it’s more the life that we live with Christ in our hearts that can shine out that people can see. It’s that relationship with Him—that’s what attracted me to Christ, as a college student. I saw students who were different than me, and it was because they had Christ. So, the more I love Him, and follow Him, and serve Him, and become like Him—the more the world can, therefore, be changed by my relationship with Him—not so much by the things I do to impact the world directly.
Dennis: And really, the way we ultimately rightly relate to God—I’m going to take us back to what we talked about earlier on the broadcast—it’s surrender. In Romans, Chapter 12, verse 1—it says: “I appeal therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
People who are listening to our broadcast, right now, and wanting the will of God without the surrender—it’s just a wish; but if you want a reality, surrender. Maybe, get down on your knees and yield to Almighty God—say, “Okay, God,”—just as Jesus did—“not my will, but Your will be done.’”
Bob: Yes; that’s really at the heart of what Hannah has written about in the book, Humble Roots, which is a book that we’ve got in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can go online if you’d like to order a copy, and I’d encourage you to do it—particularly if you are looking for help with anxiety and stress and all of the pressures of life.
If you want to find rest in the midst of that, read Hannah’s book. I think you’ll find it very helpful. You can order, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com. You can also order by calling 1-800-358-6329—1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
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Now, tomorrow, we’re going to continue our conversation about finding rest for our souls with our guest this week, Hannah Anderson. She’ll be back with us again tomorrow. I hope you can be here as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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