Today marks our fourth Yom Kippur observance since leaving the traditions of men behind, and it has been an interesting one.
As many of my readers know, we are in the unenviable position of being ‘homeless.’ The house we were renting was sold and we had to move out a month ago without having found a suitable rental or purchasable dwelling that meets a litany of requirements. Chief among those requirements is a few acres for our dairy goats. So, while we are staying with friends to remain close to my eldest son’s college for his daily commute and near my work, we have been forced to ‘farm out’ our animals. Five of our Nubian princesses went to the breeder and the five girls from this spring’s kidding, went a state away to be housed on my father-in-law’s farm.
We had hoped it would be temporary, but weeks have stretched into a month and the breeder called. What to do with the other five, but to transport them to my father-in-law’s (FiL) to keep the herd together.
Well, as timing would have it, my wife’s 30th high school reunion is this weekend, and my FiL is being ordained tomorrow as a deacon in the Baptist church… so, early last week I came to the difficult realization that we would have all of this going on over Yom Kippur. Then I got the call… My FiL let me know that we would spend Saturday (Shabbat/Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year) mending fences so the goats would have sufficient grazing.
Feel the angst? Yom Kippur in Babylon!
I so long for the day when we can dwell in a land (or even, by Abba’s grace, in THE Land) where all understand what the ‘righteous requirement of the Torah’ is and why all who follow Messiah are to follow it! But, we are not there… yet.
I spent much of last week wrestling in this quandary with the realization that the goats HAD to go. If the goats HAD to go, and we would be staying in FiL’s house, then skipping any of the aforementioned events, fence mending included, would be in very poor form. What to do?
Ultimately, I came to the difficult decision that biting my lip and seeking to walk in peace and be a vessel of grace, despite the high holy day, would be the best course of action. And, while today has been challenging, it has not been without lessons and blessings.
An early challenge was dealing with a couple sons who, though normally hard and eager workers, really wanted to fast and do ‘minimums.’ Neither would lead to a proper witness and I nixed both ideas.
Later, as we broke for lunch, I wanted to introduce the topic of Yom Kippur at the table, but incessant prattling never yielded an opening. I had to leave the topic alone. Perhaps at lunch tomorrow? Who knows. I do pray for an opportunity to discuss it.
The blessings were several.
As we worked, I had multiple opportunities to discuss various related topics with a couple of the boys.
At one point we found ourselves quietly singing ‘I enter the Holy of Holies’ by Paul Wilbur.
And, we discussed the kapparah (sacrifice) of Messiah and what the purpose of ‘afflicting our soul,’ not as a means of earning any merit, but to remind us of our inability and frailty such that we desperately need a Divine Substitute.
Possibly chief among the blessings was pondering the significance of fence mending on this day.
We weren’t simply mending fences, we were trying to make them goat proof… Among livestock, goats would be the Houdinis. Our five young girls, still diminutive in stature, are particularly adept at finding a weak spot and slipping through, not unlike the hard human heart. How we look for ways to avoid obedience, even bending Scripture through great theological gymnastics to avoid the simple straight-forward truths contained therein.
Isn’t that what Yom Kippur is really about? Mending fences and being submissive to our Father’s definition of holiness and not to our own?
His Torah is a fence and the Atonement of Messiah Yeshua covers when we have escaped, but we are to learn to live within the fence He established and not the pastures of our own choosing.