If you have spent much time around the Sunday Church, you've been conditioned to dread God's judgment. The emphasis there is on human sinfulness and God's grace and mercy in sending Y'shua to die for our sins. Sort of like a beginning pianist who can plunk out the individual notes, but does not yet have the skill to make music, the Sunday Church has the facts straight but has missed the music.
Our relationship to God is intended to be easily understood by the simplest shepherd or fisherman. The bases are the family and agriculture - two subjects with which everyone has first hand experience. In the case of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kipur, the metaphor is that daddy is coming home and He is going to take a look at what you've done since you saw Him last. He's also going to give you advice and instruction about what to do for the next year.
The month of Elul is the preparation time leading up to Rosh Hashana. It is a time for taking stock of the past year and making plans for the next. The rabbis say that Elul in Hebrew is an acrostic for the phrase 'Ani l'dodi v'dodi li' which is in English, 'I am for my beloved and my beloved is for me.' Which is to say that the month of preparation for Rosh Hashana is about love. It is about the eager anticipation that you have when waiting for the arrival of the one you love the most.
In military families, the father frequently spends long periods away from his family; sometimes in combat, more often not. In these long absences, his wife learns to handle the household and raise the children by herself. To be sure, she and he communicate by letters, phone and today email. But as good as modern communication is, it's not the same as having daddy around the house.
When daddy comes home, there is often great stress as he assumes his role as the head of the household. Suddenly all of the routines and accommodations that mother and the children have developed are reopened and things become unsettled for a while. Some marriages don't survive. In fact it is not uncommon for military families really to prefer having daddy on a deployment. The paychecks come regularly and the household runs quite comfortably with mom at the helm.
So as we approach the Day of Trumpets which announces the coming of the Father, the question we have to ask ourselves is do we really want Daddy to come home? Sure, we want the paychecks (blessings) to keep coming and we like talking with Him from afar (prayer), but do we realy want His presence? When we're around others, most of us will say the right things about wanting to be with Y'shua, but we really haven't given much thought to what that means. We spend lots of time dwelling on the no more sickness and the streets paved with gold stuff and very little time on the no more doing what is right in your own eyes part.
This Rosh Hashana, think about what it was like to be around a three year old when his daddy came home from work. You remember the screams of 'Daddy!' and the charge to the front door and the chubby little arms wrapped around his shins. Remember how the child could hardly wait to show him what he had done during the day. That's what it means to come to Him as a little child.
Yes, He will judge you, but it will be the judgment of a loving father or a good coach. It will be the judgment of someone who wants you to get the most out of your life. The judgment of someone who wants you to succeed. Contrary to what much of the church believes, you want and need this judgment. You want Him to correct you when you go astray and show you better ways of doing things.
So as you make your plans for the new year, ask yourself the question, 'Do I really want Daddy to come home, or do I just want the support checks to keep rolling in while I continue to do my own thing?'
If you decide that you really want Him, sit down and write him a letter to be delivered on Rosh Hashana. Tell him about the things from this year that you'd like to improve on next year. Tell Him what new things you'd like to accomplish in the coming year. Ask Him for support and direction as you work through your plan. Tell Him that you trust His judgment and that you know that He wants what's best for you. Tell Him that you love Him.