Thoughts From My COVID Wilderness 2.0
Yield. Submit. Two synonymous words in the English language that immediately cause me to stiffen my stubborn neck, and I am not alone. My reaction is for multiple reasons. First, I stiffen because of the abuse of scripture that call for wives to submit to their husbands and slaves to their masters. Second, I do not like it because certain submission scripture has been misused to subjugate people and oppress them while propping up some man-made hierarchy in society. Third, it is not easy to yield our will to another person or an authority, especially in this day and age. People do not even like to yield to others when traffic signs indicate we should do so. Finally, I do not want to yield. I do not want to submit. I want it my way.
Yet without submission, not one of us would be a Christian. Not one of us. If one has not submitted, put themselves under God’s authority willingly and with contrition (in other words, admitting to being in the wrong), then we cannot truly call ourselves Christian. So, what is the big deal about submission? What is the benefit of yielding?
In traffic, if we obey the signs and the rules of the road, allowing vehicles to merge in front of us, (even if they slow us down) we still get to our destination and we get there safely. I cannot tell you how many times I have witnessed cars failing to yield cause all manner of mayhem, from accidents to long-fingered salutes, to road rage.
In relationships, when people get stuck in their respective corners, refusing to budge, the rift created can be terminal. Marriages crumble, family’s fracture, friendships end, churches split, businesses go under, and nations divide. We need look no further than our politicians and TV pundits as they stoke the political divide to gain ratings or re-election. There is no way to heal or even to meet in the middle unless one side takes a step toward the other and, like it or not, that first step is an act of submission. Not everything that is good for us feels good.
The refusal to surrender our will to another person, voluntarily, without compulsion is becoming more and more prevalent in this society because we cling to a “never surrender!” mentality as if it is the badge of honor. This is a false narrative that, collectively, we have bought into. Admittedly, there is a time to stand your ground and a time to submit, but when every hill becomes one we are willing to fight, bleed and die on, then we all just bleed and die.
So, what is the benefit of yielding? The preservation of relationship. The practice of humility. The desire for the good of the other. Huh, that sounds like a spiritual discipline. What is the big deal about submission? As Christians, we should have the answer written on our hearts, because Jesus submitted in every way. If we are being formed more and more into his likeness, then we need to remember that he submitted to the will of God and to the will of the people when he voluntarily surrendered himself to the cross. Jesus didn’t get beaten into submission. He freely gave away his power, putting the entire world ahead of himself.
Even more, this is the season of Advent. In this season, we celebrate the event in the history of the world, where it’s Creator, God Almighty, submitted to human finiteness, humbling the Divine Self by being born into the most vulnerable of states…a fragile, human baby. A baby completely reliant on human parents for everything. This is the ultimate act of submission and that is why it is such a big deal. In this season of Advent, let us reconsider what it means to let go, to submit, to yield to God and to one another as we await the birth of the Divine Christ Child. Amen?!