Elul is a Hebrew month ripe with possibility and infused with the pull of return. Return to what? Ah! That’s the question we grapple with this month, as we move closer to God’s prophetic Fall High Holy Days. What are you returning to?
Anyone living with a dog or a cat knows well the first half of Proverbs 26:11. They return because all they know is, they want to eat. The question is, will we let our animal urges (which aren’t necessarily bad because they are designed by God to keep us alive) be what motivates our behaviors, or will we allow the Divine breath/ spark in us to lead the dance called life?
I recently debated a seven-year-old who’s been steeped in Darwin over whether or not she’s an animal. My side of the debate was that she, like all of us, are made in the image of God and therefore are higher than the animals. She was intrigued by that, as I was intrigued contemplating God’s day six work creating animals and then “Adam” (humankind). Adam received a functioning body like the animals did, but also something extra that the animals did not – the breath of God. Each of these natures feel the pull of return at Elul.
The breath of God is the divine spark in each of us – the part we recognize as “man was made in the image of God.” This is the part that can touch The Holy One; the part that longs to return to Him.
The energy of the month of Elul leads us return to something; therefore, be assured you’ll many chances to make a Proverbs 26:11 return of one kind or another. The testing can get pretty intense this time of year. But take heart - our Father always gives us the choice to return to Him instead. And not only does He give this option, but in Elul He makes it easier on us to return!
Elul is the divinely appointed time when the “King is in the Field.” In the natural, picture this: Instead of having to abide by the royal protocols of going to the palace to gain an audience with the King, when he is in the field, he is infinitely more approachable to those working the field; he comes to you.
If God is The King, what’s He in the field for this particular time of year? To show us He wants to talk. He even makes the first move.
The King in the field is there to give us something else to set our sights on to return to instead of Proverbs 26:11, which our base, animal natures might choose if left on our own. “Here I am” it’s as if He says, “Choose me, instead!” Especially during Elul, the Divine breath/spark in me (and you) has more than a mere chance to activate and vibrate to the rhythm of its original source.
We are, of course given these choices to return in every month of the year. But especially during Elul our bets are hedged just a little bit more in favor of us choosing our Father, the great King in the field. How so? Because He’s given us a secret weapon against the animal/instinctive nature. David knew this secret intimately, and because of it He was called ‘a man after (God’s) own heart’.
“I am prayer.”
That’s actually what Psalm 109:4 says with the italicized words removed that have been added by the translator. David said this because he understood that he can’t even draw near to God unless He has God’s help, which is done through prayer. And no, I don’t mean in some Calvinistic ‘we are all depraved’ kind of way. I mean in the way that God actually sets up a system where we must ask first by way of prayer, so that we develop a relationship with Him.
The sages say that this system was set up in the creation account of Genesis where even after vegetation was created the Holy One didn’t make it grow until man was formed because “there was as yet no human being to cultivate the earth.” It was only after the creation of Adam, who would then recognize the need for vegetation and pray for it, that it would grow. Prayer is required to bring forth a blessing. Animals don’t pray, they just act to survive. Humans with an activated Divine spark can sure pray, though.
And in the context of Elul, the blessing our King in the field is waiting to release on you and me is the blessing of return… to Him - Divine spark to the Divine. He wants us to pray “Father, help me return to You.”
This is the season to ask, ‘How is your prayer life?”
Do you sometimes not pray, because you can’t figure out how God would come through for you?
We only need to pray – our job isn’t to figure out how He’s going to come to our aid; that’s God’s job. He handles those details. If we’re listening, we can see that we’re only supposed to open our mouths (in prayer). God does the heavy lifting if we trust Him. The more we pray, the more we trust. It’s a beautiful and necessary cycle.
Do you sometimes not pray because you don’t think you deserve to have Him hear you?
This is what I love best about Elul, where the King is in the field. He’s telling us that He’s listening; He’s come to the field, representing the place where we’re at. In effect, He’s saying, “I am coming to you.” We’re in the field, we don’t have to get cleaned up first!
Try making it a personal goal in Elul to assess your prayer life. Ask the Holy One to help you pray more. Ask Him to increase your faith that He hears you and answers you. You don’t have to always ask Him for things. Sometimes you can sit quietly with Him, or spend your prayer time praising Him. Reading back the Psalms to Him is a sweet way to get in the habit of expressing gratitude for all the things He has done. Before you know it, you’ve already increased your time together.
Remember, the King came to the field just to talk to YOU!
-Gail Heaton, Author, Contributor/Instructor The Rooted Kafe