The season known as the “10 Days of Awe” began this week, as we celebrated Rosh Hashana. It is a special time of year, when the clarion call for repentance and returning to God rises above the noisy hubbub and distractions of everyday life. Our pursuit of repentance, building each day following Rosh Hashana, mounts to a crescendo of purity and closeness on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year.
How susceptible we are to losing sight of the end goal – the coming restoration of God’s Kingdom – and how easy it can be to unknowingly slip into the distracted mediocrity of the mundane! And yet, despite our human tendencies to stray off on our own paths and indulge in selfish pleasures and idle pursuits, we catch vivid glimpses of God’s mercy and love through the appointed seasons He has established for His people (Leviticus 23). They are a gentle reminder that God is waiting for us with open arms at the summit of heartfelt repentance. And it is here, on Yom Kippur, that we uncover the blessed paradox of coming before the Most-High King of the Universe in awe and respect and, as we do, we discover the tender embrace of a Father who is calling His children back to Him.
Though many of the appointed times and festivals noted in the Bible are characterized by joyful celebration, the solemnity of this season offers a contrast that reminds us that to come before God, we must allow our hearts to be broken by the revelation of everything in our lives that grieves Him. Before we can truly come to embrace the desires of God’s heart and the heights of His joy, we must be acquainted with the depths of His sorrow – for it is sorrow that reveals the unfulfilled capacity for eternal joy.
The beautiful enigma of Yom Kippur is that this experience of grief does not form an impassable chasm between us and God, but rather is the key that unlocks our way back to His Holy Courts and the presence of His unfailing love.
May you be blessed to draw ever closer to God during this special season!