Psalm 46 and Yom Teruah
I have a stack of journals on the coffee table in front of me. Let me start with an entry from June 21, 2010:
“Let my words be few: God, I want to hide with you, in the shelter of your wings – there the enemy doesn’t know where I am… Teach me more about the spirit realm. I’m caught up in lies. Can’t function well.”
I was caught up in lies. I am caught up in lies. We in our human state are caught up in lies, trying to be our own source, addicted to ourselves. Daily, hourly…by the minute, by the second. So accustomed to our prison of self, that we recognize our need to get out, but find we simply can’t, and won’t.
A few days later, I was listening to Graham Cooke, whose talks center around hearing the voice of God. He pointed to the need to ask God to highlight which section, book, chapter, or verse He wanted us to focus on in the Bible, as opposed to aimlessly and randomly flipping through pages and reading, which is what I tended to do. So I asked, and Psalm 46 jumped to mind. So I opened to it, and my heart stirred as I read:
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear…be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46
That was it, my verse for the coming days…weeks? Months? I wasn’t sure. How refreshing to know, though, that one chapter was all I needed to focus on until He stirred me to go elsewhere. I read it aloud, wrote it out by hand, and memorized the first few verses.
A few days later, I has this sense that I was to fast, the date in mind being July 1, 2010 – the beginning of the month my husband was to be away, and the month that had been highlighted to me a year previous (during a prayer time with a close friend) as a significant month. I assumed it had something to do with going off birth control pills to give my body a rest for a couple of years until we officially started “trying” for a baby.
With this in mind, I started my fast. And I was hungry, really hungry, all day at work. Not feeling particularly spiritual or close to Him…until evening when I wandered online and stumbled upon a site that informed me that July 1st was in fact a Jewish holiday called “Yom Teruah” – The Day of Shouting, or sometimes called The Day of the Awakening Blast, or The Feast of Trumpets. I NEVER randomly searched for information online, but here I was, reading with a sense of calm slowness. He was near.
Here is what I read:
“In the seventh month on the first of the month you shall have a rest, a reminder by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. ‘You shall not do any laborious work, but you shall present an offering by fire to YHVH.’” Leviticus 23:23-25
Teruah literally means to make a loud noise. This word can describe the noise made by a trumpet but it also describes the noise made by a large gathering of people shouting in unison (Nu 10:5–6). For example,
“And it shall come to pass when the ram’s horn makes a long blast, when you hear the sound of the shofar, the entire nation will shout a great shout, and the wall of the city shall fall in its place, and the people shall go up as one man against it.” (Joshua 6:5)
I got chills. A great shout. I loved that. I thought of my international church in Shanghai and 600 of us from 60 nations on a Sunday singing and shouting out to God. The power of that cry, in unison. I loved it. Was God giving me a name for our child… “Terah”? That would be neat. I had always loved worshiping and the power of corporately declaring truth. Hm… I kept reading:
The sounding of the shofar on Yom Teruah is a wake-up blast — a reminder that the time is near for the Day of Atonement. It is time to teshuvah (repent, turn back to YHVH). Traditionally, these ten days are ones of heart searching and self-examination — the shofar warns us we need to examine our lives and make amends with all those we have wronged in the previous year, and to ask forgiveness for any vows we may have broken.
So a main theme of the Fall Holy Days is repentance. Other themes during Yom Teruah are those of rebirth and resurrection (Matthew 24:31; 1 Cor 15:51-2)…when a trumpet blows (in Torah, Prophets, and Revelation) it’s almost always a summons, a war-cry, an alert warning (to prepare for something), to hail an arrival, or a wake-up call if one has been slumbering (spiritually or physically).
I had no idea at the time about the shaking and attack that was about to take place on our marriage, but what I did know deep down was that I had been slumbering spiritually, rushing through my life at a speed and intensity that was leading toward…what? What was I so intensely doing every day? Why so intensely fear-driven, still, after months of counseling and life coaching in the US, before our move to China? Why did I persist in allowing it to drive me? At work. At home. I was swimming in it, caught in it, so immersed, and I knew I was coping with security blankets… getting lost in TV series, making more to-do lists, cramming my schedule with social appointments, sleeping, and leaning on my husband for affirmation, love, and affection.
I always had in mind “that next thing/arrival point” as the time in my life when we would start to talk about kids and preparing for them. Well, it was now time for that, and I tried to slow down. It was time to rest, time to seek. Time to get out my journal and start journaling again. So I did. July 2010. Psalm 46. Yom Teruah.
On July 24, 2010, I wrote a quote I had heard that day, by CS Lewis: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less”.
I wanted that. Desperately. I continued to write and pray:
“I want to be others-focused, to be released from the prison of insecurity, doubt, and fear. Those things can really control me sometimes…often. I want my energy to be driven by the passion that you have put in me.”
I wanted a life not burdened by trying to control others’ perceptions of me, second guessing myself constantly, and using fearful anxiety to drive my intensity at work and in life… all the time. I wanted to actually care about others, and not just spend time with them to check a box off my list.
I wanted to think of myself less. That was my prayer. I wanted to hear the voice of God. I wanted encounter.