Left, Abreast, and In Step

Come to me, all you who are weary and 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

Why would Jesus make such a weird statement? When I think yoke, I think of an egg and how I always misspell the word yolk. But in the time of Christ, it was a well-known farming term. It doesn’t have a larger metaphysical meaning any more than me talking about a pen. 

Easton’s Bible Dictionary- Yoke: Fitted on the neck of oxen for the purpose of binding to them the traces by which they might draw the plow, etc.

Well, that sounds forceful and almost like slavery to me. I’m not sure I want to be linked or chained to anything (or anyone) that closely! But isn’t that just the reason God uses that word? Ever since Adam and Eve chose the tree of wisdom over the tree of life, we have been making statements like that. I don’t need help. I don’t want direction. I can figure it out on my own. 

I’m not a military man, but anyone who serves our country has my respect. I have three men in my small group who are in the military, whom I love and respect deeply. So when my friend Dennis Bradford started talking about a posture called “Left, Abreast, and In Step,” I listened closely and asked him to help me with notes so I could share what I learned with all of you. Here’s what he had to say.

“When someone mentions a United States Marine, everyone has a mental picture of what one looks like, but it’s not by happenstance Marines are the most polished of all military organizations in the world. The United States Marine Corps has a policy for absolutely every detail of war and non-war activities down to the most minute detail. This includes “walking” with someone who is of a higher rank. We don’t just stroll beside the superior officer. We are intentional about every step. The written policy states, “The lower ranking Marine shall walk: Left, Abreast and In Step with his/her superior.” This sounds like an easy task, but to be perfectly in step with another, you must pay close attention to your superior. You must constantly adjust the length of your stride. You must constantly adjust your pace to match theirs. In order to be as polished as Marines pride themselves takes total concentration, and that’s just when we’re “walking around.” 

So what does it look like to be Left, Abreast, and In Step with our Commanding Officer in heaven? It takes absolute concentration. It takes intentionality. We must adjust our stride. We must adjust our pace.”

Semper Fi, Gunnery Sergeant Dennis Bradford United States Marine Corps 

Marines do this in honor and with honor. But Jesus makes no such demands. Instead, He makes an offer and a promise.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and 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.”

Does that rest well with you today? How often does our pride and self focus keep us from the abundance Jesus promises. How hard does it feel to adjust our stride to fit His? Please leave your thoughts in the comments. We are always better with your input.

In His service and at yours,


Published by Shawn McCarthy

While serving as the Weekend Experience Pastor at Seacoast Church, I felt God prompting me to share the moments when He would speak His truth into my life through scripture in a way that made sense to me, giving me tangible ways to learn, grow and lead. These promptings turned into weekly emails that I would send my small groups and volunteer teams. I found myself enjoying the process of digging deeper into God’s Word, being stretched by the writing process, and encouraging others in the faith. My lovely wife, Anna, challenged me to begin this blog, so these moments that I have come to call, my “Red-Letter Moments,” can find a home. My prayer is that you will find hope, comfort, and inspiration here, and above all, you will come to know that the God of the universe loves you and desires a personal relationship with you.”

One thought on “Left, Abreast, and In Step

  1. Thank you once again, for opening our minds to what the bible is saying to us, that fits so well into todays life. Hopefully, we will continue to be in step with the Lord and follow wherever He leads us.


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