Ancient Jewish culture had this marvelous practice of “shmita” (שמיטה), which literally means to “release” or “let go.” Everything they did fell under this seven-year cycle. Going into it, agricultural land lay fallow, and at the end, debts were forgiven and slaves were freed. It was a year-long sabbatical for life, mirroring God’s rest on the seventh day.
But people didn’t stumble blindly into this year of no harvest that ended in losing money and help—they knew the shmita year was coming. The people spent the sixth year storing up what they’d need to not just survive but to abide, to rest and enjoy this extended Sabbath.
Today marks six years since I was baptized. That’s me with the curly hair standing between my pastors in an inflatable pool wearing my husband’s boxers because I didn’t own a bathing suit.
I had the merest grasp on Jesus then—I’d been saved for three months after spending 20+ years walking other paths—but he’d become too real for me to shake. And while I didn’t feel different when I came up from the water, I’m demonstrably not the same person I was when I went under. Thank God.
And as I begin this seventh year of walking with Christ, I’m contemplating the personal significance of shmita.
What must I let lie fallow, trusting it to God?
What did I harvest this past year to carry me forward?
What—and whom—do I need to release?
And then there’s the freed slave’s choice: return to the world on your own or, out of love and loyalty, stay with your Master for life.
Happy rebirthday to me. I’m both nervous and excited to see what this year of release—of holy rest that honours God—will bring.