No mouldy bread this new year
9 “‘I will look on you with favour and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you. 10 You will still be eating last year’s harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new. 11 I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. 12 I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.
If you’re anything like me, you’re trying to ease into the New Year, getting into work and the swing of things while pining for the summer holidays. You’ve spent a bit of time reminiscing on last year—the ups and downs, what you’ve achieved and what you’re yet to achieve. Maybe you’re wondering what this year will bring?
It’s been an interesting year for my wife and I with some amazing experiences (read international travel) as well as some painful and difficult ones (health, wealth and self challenges). As I reflected, I decided I needed some encouragement.
So I did a quick key word search to see if the Bible said anything about the New Year. And I found this interesting verse: “You will still be eating LAST YEAR’S harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the NEW” (emphasis mine).
At first the verse threw me. What did it really mean?
I decided I needed the context—to discover what God was saying and why. So I read the proceeding verses, which start with the premise that if the children of Israel remain faithful and obedient, they will be rewarded. Great rewards! If I keep the Sabbath and God’s law (10 Commandments) I’ll be rewarded. That’s good to know. There are promises like, you’ll fight off all your enemies and you’ll have peace and awesome crops.
Often we leave it there. We read the passage as being good = blessings. But it’s very passive. So I returned to verse 10 for a clue on what I should be doing as one year turns into another. Here is what I found.
In ancient times, there were no convenience stories or supermarkets where you could just buy whatever you needed. You had to grow it and store it and ration it out to last when there were no ripe crops falling into your hand. It took discipline, forethought and restraint. So people would store their crops in cellars or barns, in dry and cool places or dry, cure or salt it. Some of the food would grow mouldy, some would be destroyed by pests but hopefully there would enough food to feed the family throughout the year.
So as we leave last year behind and enter the new one, here are a few points to remember:
1. Be thankful. You’re alive and reading this. That is a blessing in itself. Count your blessings from last year and focus on the positives going forward. God has the capacity to keep filling your storehouse (emotional, physical, financial).
2. Don’t worry. As bad as last year may have been God is looking after you. He provides our basic needs. Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6).
But fresh is best. When the new crop came in, they would need to clear out the old, to make room and to ensure there was no mould.
So . . .
3. Don’t keep snacking on last year's harvest when this year brings a new crop. Keep it fresh. Don’t hang onto the past. Move on. Embrace the New Year and the opportunities God has for you this year. So often, we allow our past to tie us down rather than learning from it and moving on. You wouldn’t bake a loaf of bread with mouldy, weevil filled wheat when a new fresh loaf was available would you? So stop eating mouldy bread and actively embrace new opportunities this year.
4. Finally, stay faithful. God does call us to be faithful. Not only through being good and staying “out of trouble”. We will be judged on what we do, not on what we don’t do. So start taking faith steps for God. Pray for opportunities to share Him with someone. Bring over some food for your friends or neighbours so that you can spread God’s blessings. Take the time to catch up with someone you didn’t see much last year that is important to you and be willing to listen.
This will show that you’re no longer snacking on God’s blessings to you from last year, but you’re willing to step out in faith and embrace the new things God has in store. God has filled the storehouse of you. Are you using everything He’s given you in this New Year or are you overfilling the new with the old, going stale and allowing your crop to be damaged? Because no one likes eating mouldy bread.
Jarrod Stackelroth is associate editor of Adventist Record.