God’s whole plan for human renewal got even more challenging. It’s hard enough to take a day-long break once a week. Think about how hard it would be to take a year-long break every seven years. In Leviticus 25: 1-7 God described a multiple year dimension to His people’s life-rhythm of renewal. He wanted His people, and the land He’d allowed them to possess, to enjoy an entire year of rest.
The LORD said to Moses on Mount Sinai, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a sabbath to the LORD. For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the LORD. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest. Whatever the land yields during the sabbath year will be food for you—for yourself, your male and female servants, and the hired worker and temporary resident who live among you, as well as for your livestock and the wild animals in your land. Whatever the land produces may be eaten.”
All of us enjoy rest and relaxation during our national holidays. Imagine a national holiday that lasted an entire year. There was not to be any sowing during this year-long holiday, meaning they were not to begin any new initiatives for an improved life. There was not to be any pruning during this year, meaning they were to take a break from leveraging their resources in order to achieve an even better production. There was not to be any reaping, meaning no organized effort was to be expended on getting ahead in life. The Sabbath year was God’s invitation to rest, and eat what the land produced all on its own without any human attempt to increase the production. Exodus 21 also tells us they were to set slaves free. Anyone who, out of the sheer need to survive, had sold themselves into slavery was to be emancipated and all their debts forgiven.
If you’re burnt out, you need a long break. You need emancipation from the forms of slavery that have hollowed out your soul. How can you step into a longer period of time where you’re not beginning any new initiatives to improve your life, not leveraging your resources for a better return, and not trying to get ahead but simply stopping because you need renewal?