Seasons: from the wise words of Solomon
“There is an opportune time do things; a right time for everything on the earth:
A right time for birth and another for death,
A time to plant, and another to reap,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time love and a time to abstain,
A time to embrace and another to part,
A time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace….”
There is a Season and as they come and go those Seasons make up the sum of our lives here on earth.
Seasons come and go. And in that coming and going our lives change, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. Those of us, who are getting a little older, are aware of this more than ever before. Our life closely parallels seasons.
We are born and grow and thrive. We have great plans, goals, dreams and visions of what we want from life. We learn, we do and we have so much energy; we are full of life. This parallels the Season of Spring in our journey here on earth.
Soon we finish school, marry begin our families and careers and are in the heat of making a life and a living. Hence, we are in the Season of Summer in our earthly journey. Too soon it is time for children to go out on their own, time to prepare for retirement and reap the harvest of all the good work that has been done in our younger days.
Then, too quickly, our Season of Winter arrives; gray hair, tired, worn, broken and diseased bodies. Death awaits us; this is the cold, hard cruel facts of life.
However, the death on the outside of our bodies is not the true story. We as Christians are being groomed and prepared on the inside for the eternal life that awaits us. Soon we will be exchanging this old, worn body for our new glorified body. To die in this life is gain in the next. That old beaten body is exchanged for the new body we will have once we pass from this life to the next. It will simply be like changing old, worn out garments, the rags of this earth, and taking on a robe of righteousness. Our Savior will welcome us…”well done my good and faithful servant…enter into the JOY of the Lord!”…
No fear in death…the sting and fear are gone because of the wonderful love and sacrifice of our Savior!
Here on earth we experience and for the most part enjoy four seasons. We have our glorious, beautiful Spring. Spring is always welcomed and filled with new life, new growth, and new possibilities. As a matter of fact, most of us have our seed catalogs, our garden planners and ideas formulated during the cold of winter. We eagerly look past the snow, the cold, the deadness all around us and see by faith the earth once again restored upon the arrival of Spring. We are ready, so ready for the next Season!
Then it finally arrives. Spring regenerates us. The warm sun thaws our weary bodies and nourishes our weather-beaten souls. Spring is a time of preparation for the other seasons ahead. Those garden plans jump off design boards and become a reality. Those flower bed dreams are mapped out and fresh new flowers planted. Those scheduled vacations and outdoor activities are put on calendars, reservations made and the countdown begins.
It is in glorious Spring that we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord. It is a great time. It is New Life on the earth, in the earth and inside each of us. All of us have to admit, there is just something refreshing and renewing about Spring.
However, if we truly embrace the Season of Spring a great deal of backbreaking, long tedious days of intense labor is required. No pain…no gain; if we don’t do our part, the Season of Spring and the opportunities it offers are lost. The best laid plans mean nothing unless we take action and work while it is …well…Spring!
To quote an old Scottish proverb adapted from a Robert Burns poem,
‘To a Mouse’:
“The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.”
Meaning: even with the most detailed, laid out plans, things will go wrong and there will be challenges. Give up? I am the first one guilty of laying out my plans and dreams and seeing the labor, the cost, the time and too quickly lay them aside for another day. I shudder to think of the opportunities and rewards I have missed because I did not press in and press on.
To have a successful Season in Spring we must simply meet each challenge so that the goals can be obtained. Too often we are our worst enemies, our worst critics and our worst stumbling blocks. We war in our minds, our spirits and our souls speaking words of defeat and discouragement. We are prone to self-robbery and self-destruction. We forfeit spiritual peace, sacred joy and heavenly hope and settle for ashes. But, as we turn to God and His Wisdom,..”out of those ashes we can arise!
We must have the courage and discernment to listen to God, heed His voice, look to Him for our direction, find favor in Him and walk in a New Season. It is time to look at what is hindering us and simply… ‘let it go and carry on’.
Then it seems too soon we slip into Summer. Summer has it merits. It is during summer that those gardens, flowers and plans come to life; but only if we have done the needed preparation in Spring. Summer is a time of intense growth and for us in this part of the country: intense heat and intense sun. It is during Summer we get to taste and see the fruits of our labors from our gardens. We can pick those beautiful flowers and make bountiful bouquets to fill our houses and to share with others.
When it seems we can no longer bear the brunt of Summer’s beating, bruising and burning heat, then awesome Autumn arrives full of color and beauty.
Fall, Autumn, brings the falling of leaves, falling of temperatures and a time of harvest. If vegetables and flowers have not been picked, preserved and put away, they will succumb to Winter’s blast and fury. Therefore, it is a time of final gathering of those vegetables, picking the last of the flowers and doing the necessary work to prepare for the next Season: Winter.
Ah, Winter, my least favorite of the Seasons. To me it represents a sad time, a barren time, a time to mourn. Winter represents death; death to the flowers, death to all my plants and death to the beautiful leaves on my trees. It is a time of snow, cold, wind and rain. Days are dark and dreary. This can bring a depression, a down-ness to our emotions and souls. At times, everything seems harder in Winter! Any outdoor chores seem twice as hard. Bundling up to get to our cars to do the necessary errands, go to work, go to church, seem more difficult. There is less sunlight, less outdoor time, less reason to celebrate. Or so it seems.
However, we should not be deceived by appearances. Winter is a time when great things are happening! Yes, you read that right! Underneath all that appearance of death there is great life, rejuvenation and building going on. Those trees that surely must be dead, are not! Deep under the ground life is pulsing through those roots. They are digging down deeper and farther than they have ever been before. They will be stronger for the next coming Season. Those flowers that cast that their seeds into Autumn’s breeze, will live again. One flower produces hundreds of seeds with the possibility of thousands and thousands of more flowers. All lies dormant, still and quiet until God in His timing whispers…’time to arise and live’. Another Season begins! And so comes another Season and another and another. Are you listening and waiting for those gentle, sweet words from Him,…’time to arise and live…a new Season begins!’
This past Sunday at the Chapel was just one of those days. The service was Powerful, as the Presence and Peace moved into our Worship. We have had anointed services for several weeks at the Chapel. We have been sweetly ushered into His Presence week after week. But, this past week was life changing, life challenging and life charging. Here in the midst of cold winter January, our church has experienced a recharging and refiring in anticipation of this next Season.
God graced us with several prophecies; words of comfort, challenge and expectations of change. As I ponder and take into my spirit those words, I am amazed and thrilled how all four utterances built upon the previous one, line upon line and precept upon precept. It was almost as if God was speaking to us with a plan, then a passion, then a purpose and then a position. As we are entering a new Season, we need to be passionate about the changes needed, the Holy Spirit wants to give new meaning to our life and our Lord wants us to TRUST Him like never before.
First, the word was SEASON. We as a church and as individuals are entering a new Season! It is going to be a Season of change, a Season of challenges, a Season of Hope and a Season of Reaping! This is so very exciting.
The next word was about CHANGE. We were challenged to take a good look at our lives and to address any issues that stand between us and God. It is necessary to take an inventory of things we need to ‘let go’. Mindsets, attitudes, prejudices, habits, obsessions, even possessions need to be cleaned out, thrown out and never to be picked up again. Anything and everything needs a good hard looking at: negativism, judging others before knowing the whole story, petty gossiping (and it is all petty, folks), bitterness, and meisms. How often do we catch ourselves uttering ‘me’ or “I”. I don’t like, I don’t think, what about me, I want, I can’t, I don’t want to….and so it goes. If we want a newness and freshness in our lives, especially in regards to a new Season, work must be done to dig out, root out and throw out junk.
Often we hold on to ‘stuff’ that keeps our hearts from fully focusing on the Savior. We try to walk along the path, just close enough to glance His way and yet keep a foot in the mindset of the world. We must guard against gossiping a little here, drinking a little there, smoking a little smoke here and there, lying a little here, cheating a little there and insist on continuing to live a lifestyle that does not line up with the Word nor bring any glory to our Lord. Folks, none of us have a ‘free, get out of jail, or free I can do it my way’ card! We can fall into the trap of justifying anything we do or say. But, that does not make it right. I often think of when we will stand before God, and have to account for those things we continued to do that are not His will or way. We will stand speechless and ashamed. But that is neither His will nor His way and certainly not His plan for our lives!
We were also challenged to open up and to flow in the Holy Spirit, give heed to the leading of the Holy Spirit, allow the Holy Spirit to be a minute by minute part of our lives. We can ask the Holy Spirit to assist in the clean-up, shape-up and stand-up process. Perhaps you are holding on to habits, attitudes and hurts from the past? The Power and Presence of the Holy Spirit can flow in and flush out those things that can keep our eyes downcast with guilt, shame and hurts. The Holy Spirit is a vital part of our lives! Jesus made way for the Holy Spirit to be poured out. If you do not have the infilling of the Holy Spirit, pray that this be a part of the New Season in your life; to be filled and overflowing with His Presence.
The next word that came was ‘to trust Him”. Believe in Him. Know He is our source, our reason, our help in stepping into the next Season. Far too often we seek every council, dig into every other source and consult others’ advice, when we simply need to call on the name of Jesus.
As I thought more on the service and the words received, I found myself comparing and contrasting the Season we are anticipating for our church and families with the Seasons here on earth. Our Lord uses so many parables and parallels in nature to teach us. We can make the connection and see the principles He is trying to relay to us and make the connection a little more easily.
Just like the Seasons we have here on earth, there is work and effort required. In Spring if we expect to get any kind of fruit, any kind of vegetables, any kind of flowers, there is work. There is a time to dig out, root out, throw out, and let go of things that will hinder the planting and growth. Weeds creep in, peebles and stones somehow appear in the garden and flower beds. This is called preparation. It is necessary and vital. This has to be part of the planning and process.
Likewise, the Lord challenged us, that as we move into the new Season, we must allow the working of the Holy Spirit to root out, tear out, move out. It is time to let those old things, those hindrances, go.
It is time to work. It is time to pray and plan and purpose in our hearts that this Season is going to be like no other. It is time to work in unity, hand in hand and have a mind to build. I know our church is cozy. We have formed relationships, friendships and fellowships within our body. That will continue. So don’t have fear of change and losing anything we enjoy now. Don’t have a mindset to fear others who God sends into our Church. I feel God is preparing this minute as part of the preparation time, families, youth, singles, children that are to come join our family here at the Chapel. Let’s open up our hearts, our hands and our arms to receive them. We are entering a new Season and will need to get out of our comfort zones and begin to look upon the Harvest-the Fall Season we will move into soon.
Just like the Spring Season and planning, preparation and planting-we have been doing that at The Chapel as we pray, fast, praise and trust Him. We must continue to do that at the Chapel.
Then comes a time to reap the Harvest. As the church grows, we must continue to grow spiritually. God desires for more of us to be ready for Leadership. That office of Leadership requires greater responsibility and accountability. God is ready to do the preparation work, through the Holy Spirit for all of us to step up and step out into Leadership. We can do this…it will not come easy, it will take a lot of sacrifice and work, but there is no greater privilege than to be placed in His service and ‘carry on’.
This ‘carry on’ has become my little catch phrase. I feel the Holy Spirit dropped it into my spirit one day when I was having one of those times when I just wondered if I was where He wanted me and what next? What comes next? I felt the words, “carry on” flow sweetly and serenely into my soul…
So let’s do this, let’s ‘carry on’ and do whatever our hands find to do. Whatever task, position or place you are laboring in, do it with EXCELLENCE! Study and be prepared, be on time and ready with a plan, have a purpose and be fully presentable as an ambassador for Christ, even if it is just the Nursery, cleaning the church, switching out light bulbs and so on. It matters, it all matters in the work of the Lord.
So with that thought of ‘carrying on’…let’s join hand in hand, pray for one another, encourage one another, help one another, be less critical and judgmental of one another and step into this New Season!