“Like all the best things in life, the more you give, the more you have. That’s true of trust and friendship and it’s true of peace.” Rutger Bregman
I often talk about the riskiness of generosity. It’s like any other investment, there is never a guarantee that if you put money into something that you will get it back or get it back with interest. It’s the same when you give of yourself, your time, or your trust or your friendship. You never know if it will be received or reciprocated. It’s a risk.
It can be daunting when you hear about the bad things that happen in the world, and the seemingly endless supply of bad people. So, if you don’t trust anyone you can never be taken advantage of or hurt or swindled. You are safe from that.
But, on the flip side, if you have never been taken advantage of or hurt or swindled it means that you are not trusting anyone and missing out on the relationships and benefits that giving trust can bring. There is a cost to not trust people.
When you give trust, or friendship, or peace (non-violence), it is possible that it won’t be received or reciprocated, but the vast majority of time, it will be which creates more of what you have given. Leaving you richer than before.
Just because you may have had a bad experience where someone did the wrong thing to you, don’t write off all people (of that type, race, gender, persuasion). You are hurting yourself by doing that, and robbing the world of what your trust could bring.
I imagine that the first ever Christmas (also known as the time when Jesus was born) was hectic. The build-up and expectations of Mary and Joseph on their unborn child. Angels had communicated to them both about the baby. Literal angels. Then the travel to Bethlehem, the stress of finding a place to stay, (it’s almost as if they found the first Airbnb room, but probably would have left a scathing review) the animals, the dirt, the straw, the challenge of giving birth, learning to figure out what to do with a newborn and then the visitors.
But after all the initial barrage of activity subsided, after the visitors had left, praising God for what they had witnessed, there is this moment of quiet when Mary takes stock of it all.
Luke 2:19 says that Mary ‘treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart’.
Somehow, she had the ability to be present in that moment. She didn’t get caught up in the regret of how things turned out (I’m not sure this would have been in her birth plan), nor did she get overwhelmed by anxiety about the future and all the things that could happen when you are mother of the Messiah. Instead, Mary captured that moment. I imagine a still, peaceful moment. Maybe a cricket or two chirping (are there crickets in Bethlehem?), a soft breeze blowing, and the sound of a tiny baby breathing in and out as he slept. It’s enough to overflow the hearts of his parents with joy. The miracle of childbirth for sure, but more than that, it is the miracle that God would send this baby as the one who would carry out His plan to save the whole world. The presence of God, wrapped in flesh and bone, needing to be fed and changed every three hours. That sure is a lot to ponder.
So, my hope for us this Christmas, this special time of year, is that we will find a moment or two like this. Where we can treasure all these things:
- the miracle of a baby
- the love of a God that brought it all about so we could be in relationship with Him
- the man that Jesus grew up to be
- His sacrifice
…and ponder them in our hearts. May that bring you peace, joy and hope, whilst removing regret about what was and anxiety about what could be.