I know, this may not seem like a popular topic, but will you stay with me for a moment? Reading Leviticus was kind of like hanging out with an annoying person, don’t you think..? “Oh no, not this again,” I would mutter, but then began to realize I must be as annoying to God and others, and my thinking did a flip. I thought instead, ‘Oh, if not for Amazing Grace, what would I be!’
Still, when I heard someone tell me recently that they didn’t have the patience to finish this third Book of the Old Testament where God tells the Israelites how to conduct themselves, I felt like I had succeeded in making it through a marathon with a limp. Because I did. I finished it, impatience and all.
Admittedly, I groaned every time I came face to face with it, only to find when I turned the last page, I felt differently. I had wanted to understand better what was sacred, and the ‘why’ behind each of the Israelite traditions so I could better understand God’s heart for the hearts of His chosen people and maybe also for mine.
I had to slow down, reread when my eyes glassed over and my mind wandered, until I was sure I had taken in the words and could look into them with what felt like a new set of eyes. As I did, I began to sense a sort of stirring, like there was a deeper meaning or purpose being exposed, even as challenging and difficult as the situations were to take in.
I searched and Googled for explanations and answers only to find my head spinning further, and had to drop it, in order to just keep moving ahead.
As I neared the end of the Book, I found that my struggle with it had changed me. For one, I had a completely new appreciation for Moses, amazed at his relationship with God, not to mention his fortitude, faith, and follow-through. His ability to take in and communicate God’s Words both humbled and stunned me. How did he take it all in, put it down, and pass it on? I felt my own exhaustion and brain fatigue at the very thought.
Then in the closing chapters, I began to see some unexpected guidance for my own life. If in the seventh year of seven times seven, the Year of Jubilee, the land was to have a Sabbath rest—a sabbath to the Lord, maybe this past year, my 63rd (seven times nine), and getting sick could serve a similar purpose. To provide rest and reflection and worship. And was I fulfilling that? The need for rest is obvious, but often such an illusive endeavor, overtaken by life’s demands. How does one continue to maintain good balance between responsibility and self care when the unexpected steps in? I had to ask.
The Israelites were told not to reap what had grown of itself, or harvest what God had not tended to. I thought of my work, my writing, and even my thought process. If these were not the outcome of the One who tends my heart, of what worth were they?
The fiftieth year was consecrated and liberty was proclaimed. I looked back in time and could see the transformation that had taken place since my fiftieth year. After years of being half in and half out of this faith thing, I had prayed God would make me into a woman after His own heart. It was a turning point. And since then, I have continued to understand better that every day is about surrender.
And now I wonder if I can allow myself the time, honesty, and acceptance it takes to heal, to turn to God with boldness and with fire during the times of trial and testing on earth? Because obedience provides safety today just as it did back then.
Then “the land” will yield its fruit.