Giving up my Rights
I was walking along the Oval, enjoying an evening stroll. Birds chattered in their nests. A cool soothing dusk settled around me. Far ahead, a golden ball was sinking fast into a turquoise sea. I was content. All at once, a fellow walker came walking quickly, straight towards me. I was on the left of the trail and she on her right. Isn’t there an an unwritten code of walking that asks us to keep to our left when on a pathway? It would ensure that two walkers walking toward each would not collide.
But this lady was intent on keeping to her extreme right. I was forced to move hastily to my right to prevent a collision. There was no trace of a smile from her either. She was intent in what she was doing (walking) and also listening to her headphones. Some time later, it happened a second time. Something inside me rebelled. I felt like continuing on my side – (left is right after all) and forcing her to change to her left. But at the last minute, I heard God’s voice. Quiet. Soft. Inescapable. ‘Why can’t you give in Anusha?’
I looked up. I sighed. Then grudgingly said “OK Lord. OK.”” I moved to my right. After I passed her by, I continued my argument with the Lord.
‘But Lord, I’m walking on the correct side – she’s not.’
‘Does it cost you that much?”
“Well, no Lord. But it’s the principle of the thing. I am right to walk on the left.”
“Can’t you do this for me Anusha?”
Silence. From this quarter. But after a few minutes ...
“I know Lord. I know. You win.”
I think I am mostly willing to submit to the will of others. The word is ‘mostly’. Not always. Mostly I give in – because I know that it’s better if one person submits. I like keeping the peace. Mostly. There are a few situations though when I don’t want to submit. As in the case of this right-side walker, until the Lord made sure I heard Him. And thus I discovered that when my rights are threatened, I like to insist upon them. Apparently there’s a feisty spirit inside of me.
Many years ago – there was a tough circumstance which was difficult to maneuver. I felt I was emotionally trampled on by a friend who seemed to strip my rights away from me. In tears I went to God. As always, I received His precious guidance and comfort. A few weeks later – God spoke to me again, this time, through a real life happening.
The incident occurred during the Tsunami of Dec. 2004. Four hundred Christians in the town of Meulaboh, 240 km from Banda Aceh had requested permission to celebrate Christmas where they lived. They’d been advised that because they were under Sharia Islamic law, it was better for them to do it elsewhere. These four hundred faithful disciples of Jesus walked 5 kilometres up a mountain top, to celebrate Christmas. They stayed overnight on that height. And so, when the dreadful Tsunami hit the next morning, the rest of their town was wiped out but they remained alive. A miracle. Wow!
That story made an indelible impression on me. Those Christians could have insisted on their right to celebrate Christmas in their homes. They didn’t. And their lives were spared. God showed me through their powerful witness, that while it’s good to have boundaries and rights which keep me safe – I should not always insist on them. A higher law prevails. Submitting to God by obeying the non Christian laws of that town kept those 400 Christians alive. Deciding to find an alternative solution to celebrate Christmas carried them to a place of safety. What an inspiring story!
What are my rights? As a woman? A wife? A Mum? A friend? A neighbour? A follower of Jesus? Do I have any rights at all? When do I cling to those rights and when do I give them up? I reflect on the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings. He gave up all His rights when He was born in a smelly manger. He was holy and blameless. Yet he chose to take the sins of the world on his shoulders and suffer a criminal’s death on a cross. What does that say to me today? I believe that there are times I will need to assert myself and insist on my rights, for example when someone tries to bully me. But there are other situations when I will need to submit to another. Times when I am willing to lay down my rights for the sake of God and His kingdom.
Are you a tough place today? Have you been forced into a corner? I am so sorry if you are. I have no answer to your dilemma. But be assured that God sees and cares deeply for you. He will direct you into the decision that works out His best purposes in your life. You can count on it. So as you surrender yourself to Him, know with sure certainty that He will make your paths straight. Not only in this instance. But always. Yes, always.
“Therefore I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. This is your spiritual act of worship.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1, 2