Morning is my favorite time of day. I love to get up early so I can soak it all in – the newness, the quiet, the possibilities – there is hope and promise in a new day.
For me that feeling of new possibilities also extends to the new year, as it does for most people. A new year just naturally feels like a fresh start, like my slate should be cleaned. It reminds me of jubilee in the Old Testament (the concept of releasing people from debt, restoring property, setting slaves free… all things being restored).
I find myself worried that I am knee deep in January, and still thinking about fresh starts and clean slates…as if January 1st is the magic date for new beginnings. Then I realize, my new beginning is already in progress. This past year (yes, 2020) brought a new beginning for me. What marked my new beginning was the end of a time of spiritual struggle, I call it my dark night of the soul.
The dark night of the soul is an extended time of struggle. It can be a place where you feel lost, alone, afraid, purposeless, distant from God – and that is just for starters. While the dark night of the soul is not a fun place to be, it is a place of transition, it is part of the spiritual journey. It has purpose as it begs for resolution – seeks restoration – and eventually, brings a dawn of new birth. You can survive. I did. You can thrive. I plan on it.
As the morning light eked in, illuminating the darkness, my eyes were opened and I could see God all around me – true to God’s promise, never had God left me, never had God forsaken me.
But even as the new day dawns, there is always some clean up from the night before. I don’t want just another new morning that turns into another day like yesterday – I want transformation. I want the Lord’s favor. I want my year of jubilee… and all that it offers.
As I pursue my healing and the way forward on this amazing spiritual journey, I asked God, what might a year of Jubilee look like in my life? In my spirit I hear God respond…
In a Jubilee year, the ground rested. The people did not plant or gather. This should be a year of rest for me too, not striving or working for anything. This is a struggle. Even as I wrote this, I found myself trying to assign new tasks to myself to attain my jubilee… In the year of jubilee, the people trusted God enough to lay down their plowing gear and trust God to provide. What brings me that kind of rest? Soaking in the presence of God.
“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
In the year of jubilee everyone was released from their debts. Jubilee for me will include releasing others from their debt to me – a hurt, a slight, an offense. Release brings freedom, as I release others through forgiveness, I will also seek to be released from my own indebtedness to them. Forgiveness is the key to healing – 70 X 7.
“Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” (Matthew 6:13)
God is a God of restoration. Joel 2:25 God says, “I will restore to you all the years the locusts have eaten.” This is a promise to us as well. In jubilee, all things were restored to the way they were – everyone gets a do-over, a fresh start, a clean slate. God wants to restore my soul. I trust as I rest in God, my passion will be rekindled, my faith will be strengthened, and my mourning will to turn to joy.
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit.” (Psalm 51:12)
The more I surrender to God, the more of my authentic self will be revealed. That is, the way God had originally created me, before life lived in a fallen and broken world happened. This is how I will know that I am in fact experiencing my year of jubilee.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Of course, this takes time, but I have a whole new year in front of me.
What about you? Are you ready to claim your own year of Jubilee? There is no magic start date, so be ready for whenever God calls it.
My prayer for you is that you will also Rest in God’s plan and stop striving for your own. Release yourself and others from emotional and spiritual debt – forgiveness is key! Allow God to Restore your soul and that God would Reveal more of your authentic self; all in this year of jubilee, one new morning at a time.
“God’s mercies are new every morning.” (Lamentations 3:23)