Pressing the “do over” button (or, Bring on the Jubilee!)

I turn 49 today.

Born 4 October 1967, I’ve been gathering baggage for a long time now.

Most of it is good baggage that I gratefully carry around with me. Wonderful life experiences of traveling to other states and countries, making excellent friends, marrying a woman who brings beauty into my life, having four children whom I love dearly, studying at Regent College, pastoring two loving church communities, and on it goes. It’s been a blessed life. I have an endless list of thanks to lay before my God.

But I’ve picked up some unhappy baggage along the way as well.

I’ve hurt others and been hurt myself. I’ve made poor choices. I’ve left undone things I really ought to have done.

There are things that I’ve done really well for the most part but failed at in some significant way that took the whole thing down. If only I could selectively edit out the messed up parts without resorting to starting over completely … But I can’t. If I could pick a superhero power, it would be the power to go back even just a few minutes in time to redo that last thing I said or did — I wouldn’t need to change what other people do or say, just my own words and actions. But I don’t have that power. There is no redo ability.

But built into the biblical imagination is this thing called the Year of Jubilee. It is a sabbath of sabbaths. It’s kind of a reset button.

Every seven days, there is to be a sabbath, a day of rest, a day of setting aside all of our striving to get things to happen the way we want them to. And every seventh year, there is to be a sabbatical, a year of rest, a year of letting the land recover from all of its producing. And then, after 49 years (7X7), there is to be a year of jubilee, a year of canceling all debts, setting free slaves, returning land to original owners, and restoring things to how they were in the first place.

Count off seven sabbath years — seven times seven years — so that the seven sabbath years amount to a period of forty-nine years. Then have the trumpetsounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubileefor you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan. The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines. For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you; eat only what is taken directly from the fields. In this Year of Jubilee everyone is to return to their own property (Leviticus 25:8-13).

I could use some jubilation.

More than financial debts, there are some outstanding relational debts that simply need to be canceled. I can be a proud and self-righteous person and that causes a certain amount of relational damage.

Ultimately, Jesus is our jubilee, canceling all of our debts with God. But he calls us to be jubilee people, people who cancel the debts others owe us, people who go to those we’ve incurred debts with to make things right.

My goal for this year is to celebrate my 50th birthday debt-free. My hope is that I’ll have the courage to face my failings and iniquities and make amends for them. So, if there is anyone reading this whom I’ve sinned against, please let me know that I may acknowledge what I’ve done and try to make things right.

When I turn 50 next year, I’d love to look at my baggage and see only good things that I want to carry with me for the rest of my life. It’s wishful thinking, I know, but I want to live as fully into a Jesus-shaped jubilee life as possible.

I want to be jubilant.