Friday, September 7, 2012

Oxen

A couple of resources for Matthew 11:28-30 - "take my yoke upon you"

 

Team Building by Martien Eerhart

There is a story about a contest in Canada for the strongest ox. The  winning ox could pull 8,000 pounds  and the runner-up pulled just a little less than that. The owners of the oxen wanted to know how much the two oxen could pull together. Most observers placed a bet around 16,000 pounds. Some bet a little more, some a little less. When they actually put the two oxen in front of the weights, they pulled over 26,000  pounds!  That is true synergy: the sum is more than the components together. That is why team playing is so much more effective.


Equally Yoked Together by Boyd K. Packer

Several years ago . . . I went to a country fair in New Hampshire. It was a beautiful fall day and a delightful old-time country fair.The center of attraction was the oxen pulling contest. Several teams of oxen with heavy wooden yokes were lined up to compete. A wooden sledge was weighted with cement blocks: ten thousand pounds--five tons--to begin with. The object was for the oxen to move the sledge three feet.

I noticed a well-matched pair of very large, brindled, blue-gray animals. They were the big-boned, holstein, Durham-cross, familiar big blue oxen of seasons past. Because of their size, of course they were the favorites.  Each team was given three attempts to move the sledge. If they were able to do so easily, more weight was added until the teams were eliminated one by one. In turn, each team was hitched to the sledge. The teamster would position his animals carefully, pat them, chortle to them, whisper to them, and then at a goad and a loud command they would slam forward against the yoke. Either the weight would move or the oxen were jerked to a halt.

The big blue oxen didn't even place! A small, nondescript pair of animals, not very well matched for size, moved the sledge all three times.  I was amazed and fascinated and turned to an old New Englander in the crowd and asked if he could explain how that could happen. He said, "E-yeh." (That means yes in New England.) And then he explained. The big blues were larger and stronger and better matched for size than the other team. But the little oxen had better teamwork and coordination. They hit the yoke together. Both animals jerked forward at exactly the same time and the force moved the load.

One of the big blue oxen had lagged a second or pushed a second too soon--something like a football player being off side--and the force was spent in a glancing blow. The yoke then was twisted and the team jerked to one side and the sledge hardly moved. If I were to moralize, I would begin in typical Book of Mormon language, "and thus we see" that size and strength are not enough. It takes teamwork as well.

And one thought from me (and the seminary lesson manual, and Mosiah 18:8-10, and Elder McConkie):  We join our Savior in the yoke when we are baptized and covenant to take upon us his name.  As we keep the commandments, and in particular serve others, our own burdens become lighter.  What an amazing blessing!

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