When Christmas passes and the New Year approaches, I start thinking about how I would like to live out the upcoming year. I take a few days to choose a word like joy or peace as a theme and hope to discover and embody that word. At the close of 2019 though, I sensed things were going to be different. Of course, I had no idea how very different. Neither did I understand why I also had two words for the year. As we are now in September of 2020, I believe now I’m beginning to understand.
The first word I pondered was the word faithfulness. Being faithful, according to Merriam-Webster, also means “steadfast, strong, true to the facts, adherence to, or assurance”. Faithfulness as I understand it means being committed to engaging in pursuits, goals and activities that require excluding other activities. My sense for the new year was that I urgently needed to become faithful in all areas of my life – including my relationship with G-d.
The second word I pondered was restoration. Aaaah. Restoration. After having just passed the 6 month mark of the catastrophic 2020 lockdown, I am just as ready as anyone to reach it’s fulfillment.
Restoration according to my Greek Lexicon refers to “new birth, regeneration.” The Oxford Dictionary states it this way, “the action of returning something to a former owner, place, or condition.”
As I’m glancing at my calendar this week, the Hebrew Calendar announces the beginning of a new year, Rosh Hoshanah. Rosh Hoshanah is known as the birthday of the world, the head of the year, a time of renewal. The shofar is blown like an alarm beckoning us back to G-d. Time for introspection. Time for correction. At the end of ten days Yom Kippur is observed. It is a High Holy day. The Day of Atonement with fasting, sincerity, confession and repentance. Repentance seems kind of appropriate this year, doesn’t it?
What I have seen this year, what you have seen too in some estimation, is the unprecedented shaking of our world. All of us have used different words and ways to explain what or why things have happened. What I have seen has saddened me. What I have seen is scorn for things once thought good, an undeniable hatred of god-fearing principles, traditions and blessings. What I have seen is the celebration of destruction and rhetoric that stagnates. What I have seen is people grieving over lost loved ones, isolated and apathetic. Fear abounds. Fires abound. Strife abounds. If you are different, you’re cancelled. If you’re not essential, you’re unessential. I see people feeling attacked, helpless, sick, tired and disrespected. People are assigned varying degrees of value. They’ve been silenced, cancelled and even murdered.
How did we get here?
Are we just like Cain?
Is death our anthem?
Our generation has lost some amazing humans. Some of them were soldiers. Some of them were the best of us. They fought for freedoms sake, for righteousness sake and they fought their way out of hell into a peaceful place. They did not consider their own lives in their missions. How is that possible? I could spend loads of time singing their praises but the time is short for ALL of us to consider how WE will leave the generation after us. My concern for some time now, apart from senseless killing is that this generation has lost some of the goodness of the previous one. My concern is that we will become like the man lost in a desert who out of the thirstiness of his soul, drinks the sand. Thirsty souls need pure water. Do we even know the difference between a polluted well and a fresh spring? Thirsty souls drink whatever is easy and near. But this is not the way of restoration.
I wonder if the Maker of heaven and earth will so lovingly remind us of the fragility of our lives. I wonder if we like Job could brace ourselves and hear the Almighty speaking into unexpected places leaving us to know that the Awesome One is watching. I wonder if we could even begin to turn away from that which destroys and turn towards the ONE who saves. The ONE who saves is divine and restoration is His alone.
If there was ever a time to sound the shofar, it is now. If there was ever a time to stand, it is now. If there was ever a time on earth to contemplate, ask forgiveness, confess and repent, it is now.
The Bible tells us G-d is watching and that He is the healer.
2 Chronicles 7:14
“If my people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”