As a non-denominational Christian, I am grateful to say I have received a few priceless gifts from GOD during the LORD's High Holidays. Sadly, it turns out most of the popular, though well meaning, Christian holidays such as Easter and Christmas have pagan origins.
The Judaic High Holidays are still the LORD's Feasts. Jews say it's when GOD draws near, but it's been my personal experience that GOD is always near. Rosh Hashanah and the other high holidays are simply times when people draw near to or "return to GOD".
"Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."
You don't have to be a Jew to benefit from Rosh Hashanah. This month of Elul is said to be the birthday of creation and a time to reflect on the past year.
Pull out your journal. Assess your progress.
How much have you grown since last year? What have you learned? What have you accomplished? How much have you given? This is not a time to be selfish. It's a time for introspection and re-alignment with GOD.
It's a time to forgive others with whom you still hold a grudge. It's a time to assess your short comings and ask GOD for help in those areas.
Jews approach this time with reverential fear as GOD decides who lives and who dies. That can be literal or metaphorical as it can also mean a year of poverty or prosperity.
In Christianity, we are told the blood of Jesus has washed away our sins. It is true that GOD sacrificed Jesus to pay for the sins of humanity.
However, this annual "soul check up" is both healthy and necessary. Many Christians receive salvation and sit like a lump of clay for the rest of their lives waiting for the rapture.
No one outside of you is judging you. It's just you and GOD. This is an opportunity to develop and grow. It's also a time to give and be as charitable as you can be and beyond your comfort zone.
Generosity helps you to overcome selfishness and balance out any areas of weakness. Generosity also gives perspective. When you open your hand to others, you open your heart to GOD (love). GOD rewards a generous giver.
In Christianity, we are told GOD opens the book at the end of your life to see if you've received salvation and thus your name written in the Book of Life. Then the LORD opens the Second Book to see your works (good deeds) and rewards you accordingly. However, if your good deeds are lagging, there's no time to correct it. It's too late.
You can't claim the wisdom and good deeds of your pastors, rabbis, parents, grandparents, saints, or prophets. You must get knowledge for yourself and sow your own seeds. Are you familiar with the parable of the ten virgins? (See Matthew 25)
When the Messiah arrives, five foolish virgins are scrambling around for oil. They ask five wise ones for some of theirs. The five wise ones say go buy your own lest we not have enough for you nor ourselves either. That oil (wisdom and sincere acts of kindness) is what you've collected over your lifetime. It's for eternity.
Based on your deeds from the previous year, GOD determines whether to bless you or curse you the next year. Yet you decide. It's all based upon the seeds and deeds you've sown.
I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: Deuteronomy 30:19
If you realize you didn't really do your best, GOD gives you forty days to both repent and correct your focus. Can you earn GOD's love? No, you can not. GOD is love.
Keep that truth close to your heart. GOD loves you. Say it to yourself continuously while you're assessing yourself from the previous year. "GOD loves me."
The LORD does not want to punish you except that it will get you back on the right track. GOD wants to reward you more than you can imagine. But it must be in alignment with GOD's ways. SIN means you missed the target.
You may have lied, stolen, cheated or not spoken up for righteousness when you had the opportunity to do so. Repent. Return to GOD. Read the Living Word of GOD via the Holy Bible daily. The Holy Spirit leaps off the pages and into your heart and mind. GOD's Word will guide you.
The goal is, and always has been, for humanity to come back into alignment with the true and Living GOD. Ultimately, this should not be done seasonally but as a way of life. Then the end will come.
The month of Elul should be utilized by all to realize GOD is calling all home. However, only the righteous shall enter and remain. You can't do it alone. You need the LORD GOD's help. We all do.
Elul is a time of self-reflection that will benefit anyone who sees its true purpose. The rewards are bountiful and boundless. GOD always goes beyond your best wish list.
Any "correction" during this season is an opportunity to change your final address from Destination Pit (curses) to Destination Eden (eternal blessings). The end of your life is just too late to negotiate with GOD.
Happy Rosh Hashanah. May this next year and every year thereafter be especially sweet, healthy and prosperous for you!
"And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies.
I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD.
And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the LORD, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth;
And the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel.
And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my GOD." Hosea 2:19-23
LeTicia Lee is author of My Love is One: What I Learned from the Messiah about Love, Family, Climate Change, and the Second Coming. #MyLOVEisONE