My son chatted at me from the back seat of the car, but my mind wasn’t with him. I was reliving old wounds. I was repeating old accounts. I was telling myself the story of my life, or of certain significant moments in my life.
Weeks ago I had spent a drive doing much the same on the way to a yoga class, only to have the teacher speak this truth to the class once I got there:
We tell ourselves the same stories over and over because there’s still something there for us. Something we haven’t learned yet, or reckoned with. Something we still need to see.
Lately, I’ve been retelling a lot of old stories. Going over old ground. And it’s not always pretty. It’s often ground that is overrun with weeds and pot holes, dry ground that has long since been ignored. And the truth is I’d rather ignore it. I’d rather move on to a new place, a new story, a new path, new land. But, that’s not where God’s leading me.
Two weeks ago I was driving my daughter to a neurology appointment and praying over some heavy decisions with my husband’s cancer treatment and it was one of those rare moments where God reached down in the middle of my prayers and gave me a gift, a word: “Pray for a Year of Jubilee.”
I sent out a prayer email that night asking for our family and friends to join us in praying for a Year of Jubilee, a year of rest, restoration, and joy. But, there was this vagueness to the whole thing, I don’t think I fully realized what that word or prayer meant. I thought it was a prayer just for my husband’s cancer, for a season of rest, without treatment and without tumor growth, what I’ve come to realize in the past two weeks is that it was really a word for me.
We don’t have any historical evidence that the Israelites ever practiced a Year of Jubilee, but we know what it was to entail, and what it was suppose to look like. Every seven years there was to be a sabbath year when the land would rest, when they were asked not to work the land. That is a serious act of trust for a farmer! I can only imagine. But, every seventh sabbath year there was to be a Year of Jubilee. During this year they were required to give back the land that wasn’t for them, take the land that was for them, cancel all debts, set slaves completely free, and on top of that not work the land at all. This was a year of rest, but it was also a year of deep trust.
It was a year of saying publicly as a community, “God is enough.”
During this time they were suppose to act upon a belief that they didn’t need more than what God had originally given them, they didn’t need to horde, and a belief that what he gave was good and right. Those who had taken more than their share were to return to a posture of trust in God. Those who had given up land that should be theirs were suppose to claim it again in God’s name. Those who had become slaves were to go free. Those who had taken slaves were to trust God and set their slaves free. All were required to rest and surrender and trust God to provide rather than work for their own provision or position.
It was a year of saying, “I am free and so are you. I am a child of God, a citizen of his kingdom, and so are you. I have a place, a home, and so do you.” Oh friends, isn’t that like a year of Namaste? I year of saying, “The light in me recognizes the light in you.” I am not lord over you and I am also not slave under you. We are the same. We are free.
I am going over old ground, because there’s something for me there.
I’m being invited to ask God to show me what land is mine. What land have I claimed that isn’t mine, that I need to give back? What land is mine that I’ve given up and I need to claim again?
I’m being invited to ask God to show me who and what I am slave to and what it will take to get free. Who and what am I holding captive, taking into slavery, that I need to let go of and set free myself?
I’m being invited to ask God to show me where I am striving for my own provision. Where do I need to just rest, surrender, and let God do the work?
I’m being invited to ask God to show me who I am not viewing as the same, as an equal child of God. Who am I giving too much significance to, and who am I giving too little significance to? Am I giving myself too little significance or too much?
Show me. Show me. Show me.
And so he takes me to old ground.
Go over this again. Tell this story again. Look at this wound again. Dig up these weeds again. Because we’re mapping out your land. We’re mapping out your heart. We’re letting go of what’s not yours and taking claim to what is.
The Year of Jubilee is a year of rest from work, from striving, but it is also a year of deep work, of hard spaces. Because, friends, rest isn’t easy. We can not rest if we do not trust. In order to really rest we must surrender, we must trust, we must open our hands, we must put ourselves in a vulnerable position.
Right now we have decided to take a break from treatments for my husband’s cancer. His cancer has been stable since his last treatment and we are hopeful that this last trial drug we did will continue to work in his system for a while. But, we don’t know how long. We will act when things start to grow again, but for now we will just live with cancer. We will live our lives and do the normal day to day despite the tumors all throughout his body. We will trust that God knows how long of a season of rest we need, and that God will hold these tumors at bay for as long as this season of rest needs to last.
We will trust. We will hope. We will rest.
And I will do the work to get free, to take the land that is mine, and give up what is not for me.
Rejoicing in the journey,