The season of summer is still warming our bones, the fields are looking good for harvest, and we will soon be welcoming the biblical holidays of Rosh Hashanah, the biblical New Year, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement and Sukkoth, the festival of booths. These are known as The High Holy Days of the Judaic / Hebrew calendar and as believers they are our inheritance too. I have marked these Holy Days for at least the last ten years and they have been such a gift to my spiritual and physical journey, often with no need for a binary division, as it seems that the physical and spiritual truly are ONE, if we have eyes to see it.
Before we arrive at these Holy Days God invites us to participate in a process of preparation which is marked by the 12th month of the Hebrew / Judaic calendar, Elul. (There a plenty of fantastic resources on YouTube about the month of Elul and I particularly like Christine Vales Chalkboard teaching on all the Hebrew calendar months and also the teaching of Jim Staley.) Some of the highlights to this month are that it is a time of repentance (literally means to turn back), taking audit and account for the last year in readiness to mark a New Year of God's biblical calendar, and His ultimate cycle of grace. It is also a season to acknowledge the God ordained harvest of our lives over the past year, making ourselves ready to offer all we are as living sacrifices, fully atoned for because of Jesus. There is also an ancient practice that would be carried out by the King during the month of Elul. Instead of remaining in his palace the King would come and be in the fields amongst the workers. This act is a picture for us all, and was the inspiration for this blog.
I am not sure about you but the picture of the King, and in this case, the King of kings, coming to be in the fields amongst the people has a reassurance and hope to it. It is not a season to be in fear of God, as we repent, remember, and harvest, but is rather a picture of how God comes to meet the people where they are at. All the King requires is that we, His people, engage with the tasks at hand. We get to ask questions of ourselves during this season, such as, how have I made the Kingdom of God known on the earth over the last year? When have I done my best and when could I have done better? What is coming to light out of the audit you are doing on your last year? What needs to change? What will be offered? You see, this is a season where God comes to dwell in the field of our hearts, it is a season where the tent pegs are expanded and Jesus stakes a claim on more parts of our lives. It is permanent and is graciously part of the yearly cycle of Holy Days and Appointed times. As new creations I really see that the cycle of appointed times, or biblical Holy Days, as the benchmarks and holy tools of transformation. That's why I call it the cycle of grace too.
There is another beautiful element to the month of Elul in that the name is an acronym to a well loved verse in the Bible. In fact, in my opinion it is one of the most poetically delightful verses, found in the Song of Songs; "I am my beloved and my beloved is to me". This season is about a return to The King as our beloved. It is the build up to a wedding scene, for us as individuals, and as consecrated community, and it is a time where we can actively invite God to wander the fields with us. Whether its the fields of our dreams, relationships, and even battlefields.
In Romans 2 v 4 (NASB) it says: "Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and restraint and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?" To me this verse speaks of these days in the field and how God wants to walk and talk with us as if we were back in the purity of the garden of Eden. God wants to make eye contact with us, hold still in moments of sacred testimony, tears, repentance and set us up to truly experience the joy of working things through and being forgiven and equally free to forgive. God loves to see us smile and honestly, I don't think I am just speaking for myself when I say that more smiles would certainly lift the soul right now.
These days have been hard and full of uncertainty but one thing we can know is that the Kingdom of God is unshakeable and that same Kingdom is within you and me. This season is one of rebirth and unless our repentance is genuine, that turning back to The King of kings will just be another box we check. You see, the best thing about this season is that we get to turn and see the face of God smiling for us and with us, and he wants us to benefit from the deep experiences of His love. God wants to meet us in the fields of our lives and call us home, He wants us to experience the deep joy of returning and for use of a better phrase, He wants us to get our affairs in order so we can feel alive and well esourced for the months ahead,
The King is in the field, will you meet with Him there?
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