The thing with laying down our rights is it leaves us vulnerable. Surrendering control of our lives (even though if we are honest we really don’t have very much to begin with) can leave us feeling shaky. The unknown is an uncomfortable place to be.
Trust is the firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. There are many moments in life where we have to exercise Trust. In friendships, relationships, marriage, family, work, even when we drive down the road we have to trust. Trust that the other people that we are doing life alongside will do their part, hold up their end of the deal. There is surrender in trust, acting on the belief that someone else will be reliable, true and strong. That they can be counted on.
The problem with trusting people is that they are people and so therefore can and do easily break our trust. We can all think of a time when we relied on someone else and they let us down. They didn’t do their part. Whether it was in a relationship, work situation or someone who rear ended you this morning on the way to work. People can and will let each other down. I know that I have definitely been the person to break another’s trust.
It is understandable then why surrender and letting go can be hard. Depending on our life circumstances we can be hard wired to hang on to our own way and not to trust. Experience is the best teacher and for many of us our experiences may have taught us to forge ahead on our own, that we are better that way.
In the Christian journey, especially at Christmas time, we use a lot of nice words about knowing Jesus. Knowing the baby. He is the gift, the Savior of the World born in a manger. Allow him into your heart, into your life. Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace. Don’t these statements bring a sort of ethereal sense with them? You can almost hear the angels singing as they appeared to the shepherds. They go along with the magical twinkle lights, lightly dusted Christmas treats and soft snow.
Applying these truths to our lives though is more than allowing Jesus in, like you have a side door that he can sneak through and be a wallflower. Following Jesus, truly acknowledging him as Savior, means that he becomes your very life. Everything to you. Instead of giving him a bystander view, he is the center and all else gets built around him, his plan, his ways, his ideas.
In order to truly live this way, to truly know the baby in the manger, we have to be able to surrender and in order to surrender we have to trust. Here is the good news, Jesus who came as fully man is also fully God and God is fully trustworthy.
If where we start in the Christmas story is surrendering our rights, then what we receive for our surrendering is most undeserved but exactly what each and every one of us needs and that is redemption.
Redemption is maybe my favorite thing that God offers. The idea that I have a mess and I give it to him and he takes it and gives me back something beautiful is the most hopeful promise. I cling to it. I collapse in it. Because I am a mess on most days and I need the promise that my messes can be fixed. In redemption not only can our messes be fixed, they are transformed into something empowering, beautiful, purposeful and good. When we surrender them to the Savior.
This is the message of Christmas and once again I look at the familiar story and I see the mess. A young girl, unmarried, a virgin – pregnant. In a day where she could have been stoned for the state she found herself in. A young man, a carpenter, I can imagine money was tight especially if he lost the support of family and friends when he surrendered his rights and obeyed his God and married Mary. Dirty shepherds, had they showered? Did they have sleep in their eyes and sheep dung on their clothes, did they use bad language? Have hard family situations? Did they need the hope of redemption? I know they did because we all do. Herod did, even though he didn’t surrender to it. Mary and Joseph’s families, Zechariah and Elizabeth did, the Wise Men too. And all the other unnamed characters like the innkeeper and fellow travelers. I know this because they were human so they had trusted and broken trust. They had messy every days just like me and I am thinking you and they needed the hope of redemption. You need the hope of redemption. We all do.
This is why Jesus came as a baby in a manger in a stable among animals and worshiped by shepherds. This is why Mary and Joseph said yes to an unconventional life. They trusted their God and welcomed their King because we need to be able to surrender our mess and see it exchanged for something beautiful, purposeful and sacred.
This broken world that I am a part of and contribute to needed and continues to need the hope of redemption. We don’t deserve something better than the mess we have found ourselves in and that is the beauty in it. We are made worthy of a Savior simply because He says so. He gives us the gift of himself and he saves us from ourselves and this world, when we surrender and let go, when we trust him he will take our everyday messes and turn them into something beautiful.
We lay down our rights and even though this can be scary the challenge is to trust the trustworthy God because when we lay down our rights and surrender our messes what we get back is beauty and purpose beyond what we could imagine. Like God in our midst.
This is what we receive – redemption. Our mess, for his Beauty.
Will you believe in that this Christmas?