Lent is a season in which people lay down various aspects of their lives which they don’t need, so that they can focus on building up their spirits and their relationship with God, which they do need. During Lent, we remember the sacrifice Jesus made for us, and ask ourselves what sacrifices we are willing to make for Him. Jesus gave His very life so that we might be saved. In John 10, Jesus talked about being the Good Shepherd, who would willingly lay down his life for His sheep. But when He lays down His life, He does so with the hope of resurrection, and the promise of power and authority from God. Jesus said:
…For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father (John 10:17-18)."
Jesus was able to lay down His life because He was filled with abundant life. Had He not been so filled, He would not have been able to hold onto His life so loosely or give it so freely. But the resurrection says that even death submits to the power of ultimate love.
As you consider your own sacrifices during Lent, think about giving up things that are more than chocolate or swearing or smoking. Consider the deeper things that you need to lay down for God. You might reword Jesus’ words for your own life in the following way: "For this reason I enjoy the blessed Way of Christ, because I relinquish my power, ego, and agenda for a time. No one has taken these things away from me, but I lay them down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay them down, and I have authority to take them up again. This teaching I have received from My father.”
When I truly see that I have the authority to lay down my life in a difficult relationship, I don't feel violated when I allow another to dominate the conversation. It takes great strength to restrain myself when I'm irritated or to listen when I'd rather speak--but through Christ in me, I have access to that strength. Stepping back is not weakness, but an exercise of self-control and inner power. Because I have the ability to lay down my life and also have the authority to take it up again, I know that I'm not giving up, but only yielding for a moment.
We're all afraid of losing status, equilibrium, and control. But yielding for a moment isn't losing. It's allowing the Spirit room to breathe His peace into our hearts. When I yield, I allow the other person space to be themselves, and to express their hearts in a different way than I express mine. Yielding for a moment is showing God's love. Because Jesus yielded, so can we. So must we, if we are to love each other.