Seasons have been on my mind a lot lately. Perhaps it was watching the vibrant transformation of summer's greens to a full array of gold and crimson as leaves drift down onto the frosty signposts of approaching winter. Perhaps unlike other times of the year, these signals marking the change in seasons happen so rapidly. If you blink (or in my case travel a lot), you might miss fall's peak colors.
But then, seasons aren't just about weather and nature’s growth cycles. The writer of Ecclesiastes talks about other kinds of seasons.
The seven verses that follow this opening one explore so many different human experiences.
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time for war, and a time for peace.
Our human "seasons" can take on so many different shapes with thousands of nuances leading from one season to the next. Sometimes seasons can change rapidly such as when family responsibilities change, when we pass through a major hurdle or accomplishment, when we or someone near us experiences a change in health, when work responsibilities change, just to name a few. But sometimes seasons can feel stuck, like someone forgot to wind the clock to keep time ticking forward. Often these are times of waiting, waiting for the next doctor's visit, the next hurdle to be overcome, the next job opportunity, or the next...you can fill in the blank. We find ourselves longing for the next season just like we long for the first cool hint of fall in the middle of August’s summer grip.
It's easy to get so lost in wanting to escape what is so hard about one season that we can miss some of God’s promises in the present experience. As I think about these times, three such promises give me comfort and peace. First, recognizing that God has given each season its own place and time helps me keep perspective. Whether this is a season of joy and vibrance or it is a season of pain and heartache, knowing it will end and another season will take its place gives me renewed commitment to “show up” for my own life, my own season. To be present in the “what is” rather than solely pining away for what was or what isn’t yet is a gift, keeping me focused on what matters most in the right now season of my life. It is a season. I will choose to walk through this season knowing God has set boundaries around it.
Another promise we have in our seasons is found in verse 11:
"He has made everything beautiful in its time.”
As nature’s seasons remind us, each season has its own unique beauty as well as challenges. Sometimes, though, we can miss the present season’s beauty as we peer anxiously toward the next season on the horizons. We yearn for summer’s warm rays as we huddle by fires in the dark of winter. Then as summer heats up, we drudge through dreaming of sitting by a warm, cozy fire on a snowy day. (We can be a fickle lot at times.) The distraction of trying to peer into the next season can lead us to miss the beautiful in the now. Likewise, when all our attention is focused on the “back then” beauty of what once was, we are equally blinded to the unique beauty in the “now.” So rather than solely seeing the “what was” or “what might be” beauty, I want to be drawn to looking deeply into this time to embrace the distinctive loveliness that interweaves into this season. What am I able to experience, sense, feel, do right now in this season that might not be at my fingertips in the next passage? Where do I need to lean in and breathe the now? What is the distinctive beauty here?
The third truth, and by far the most important for helping me maintain perspective regardless of where I am in my life journey is that God has all the seasons of our lives in His hands. Circling back to verse one, notice that all the seasons and every matter is all under heaven. The Maker of all holds all things together. He is still on His Throne. He is still in control. His plan for us will unfold when the timing is right. Until that moment, our simple task is to walk, breathe, live, trust. The One who loves us more than we can imagine is holding all things in His Hands.
So, I can, with confidence, be present in my “now” season, explore the unique beauty that God has woven into this moment, and trust Him to walk me to and through the next season when His timing is right. Rest there for a moment. Breathe in what is good around you. Trust Him with the future.
Blessings and peace in this season.