I started working a ‘real job’ when I was 16 years old. I hope to retire when I turn 66, the Lord willing. So in a way, I am looking forward to a year of Jubilee. That is, the 50th year after seven times seven years of labor. I have to admit that I’m getting excited thinking about this.
Leviticus 25:10-12 “And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you, and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family. That fiftieth year shall be a Jubilee to you, in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of its own accord, nor gather the grapes of your unattended vine. For it is the Jubilee, it shall be holy to you; you shall eat its produce from the field.”
What could I do with unconstrained time for a year? For sure, I would pursue a deeper walk with Christ. That might come with intentional immersion in Bible studies, or committing to a yearlong study with the C.S. Lewis Fellows Program, or even enrolling in a Biblical course in a Christian college. I also long to develop meaningful relationships with Christians of other countries and cultures.
Also, thinking about how God would have me spend time with others, I take the commandments in Leviticus 25:35-38 seriously. “If one of your brethren becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you. Take no usury or interest from him; but fear your God, that your brother may lie with you. You shall not lend him your money for usury, nor lend him your food at a profit. I am the Lord you God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.”
Lending to the poor is an oxymoron to me. Whatever I give to someone in need, I do not expect to receive the same or more back. I would just hope that the person on the receiving end would someday return a similar kindness to another who is in need. Yet, I have felt restrained from doing more for the poor because of travelling for my job, working late hours, or volunteering for extra duties at work. There have been times when I was jealous of my Christian sister or brother who provided more than a ‘love offering’ to a poor soul in need of long-term support. Even members of my extended family have needs that I so much want to be involved in resolving.
This divided heart that I have may be an attempt to rationalize insensitivity or inaction towards others. I confess that, as well. Yet my love for others is summed up in my profession’s code of ethics which states, “Do no harm.” How many times have I missed hearing the cries of the lonely or those who were hungry? What energized my conditional acceptance of those who were unproductive according to my standards? I would hope that contemplating holiness unfettered by my own distractions from seeking wealth, position, or comfort would open my heart’s window into God’s great love for the poor in spirit and the weak.
My own soul needs to meditate on how the Year of Jubilee is also the year of redemption. Leviticus 39-55 explains how a person may be redeemed, by a brother or by oneself. Of course, we now know from the sacrificial work of Christ Jesus on the cross that we are redeemed by His blood. There are still millions who do not know or believe this beautiful truth. What opportunities will there be in my retirement to spread the Gospel? Will I rise to the call or lounge on my couch? Will I take hold of the promises of God? For He said, “For I will look on you favorably and make you fruitful, multiply you and confirm My covenant with you. You shall eat the old harvest and clear out the old because of the new. I will set My tabernacle among you, and My soul shall not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people,” (Leviticus 26:9-12). If having more time at home with family, friends, church, and community means walking alongside God, I can’t wait!!
Dear Lord, God, going deeper with You, learning how much You love me, and being filled with Your Spirit to follow You and serve others – this is my prayer for now in however much time You give me. And in my Year of Jubilee, I pray that You open wide the doors to receiving even more of You! Flood me with Your Presence now and always! Amen.