There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace (Ecclesiastes 3:1-9).
One of my earliest Bible verse memorizations came before I knew what a relationship with Jesus was all about. It did not come as a result of a youth leader, Vacation Bible School, or a local missionary, but rather through the “audible osmosis” of an old pop song.
For those of you who aren’t aware of a time when there were only black and white televisions, telephones with cords, non-electric typing devices without screens and vinyl music, you probably haven’t heard of the group The Byrds, or their song “Turn Turn Turn.”
However, it was not only the catalyst for me to memorize Scripture, but also imparted some important life lessons I still carry with me today.
Sans a few words, the lyrics to the song are almost verbatim from the third book of Ecclesiastes of which King Solomon, in his great wisdom, has been credited to have been the author. He speaks of our time on earth in terms of polar opposites—“a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build. . . .”
Although we may fully appreciate and accept there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven, many of us still struggle with believing it after so many years of waiting.
What if this season never changes? Will my future look just as it does today? Will there ever be a season of health, a period of financial stability, a chance to have a family or a time to dance?
Life is a continual series of ebbs and flow, while some seasons seem to last too long, others seem to fly by way too quickly, and many we just don’t understand. Regardless, we are told to live each day for the Lord and as unto the Lord.
I urge you . . . live a life that measures up to the standard God set when he called you (Ephesians 4:1).
I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:35).
As a “college graduate,” I found myself loading cement blocks onto scaffolding, on my knees under a house digging a basement out by hand, spending eighty hours a week at work, cleaning bucketsful of rusty bolts, and unemployed a number of times.
All the while, I have been single, lived in five different states and worked three distinct career paths.
Don’t think for a moment I haven’t asked myself, “How did I end up here?”, “What did I do to deserve this?” or “Is this ever going to end?” a number of times along the way.
However, in those tough and sometimes trying times, while truly believing those seasons would someday change, one verse continued to resonate in my mind in all I did.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men (Colossians 3:23).
While it is often easier to focus on and complain about the negative aspects of our life, what we seem to be “missing,” or what people “did” to us or made us do, maybe it’s time to accept our situation in a different manner.
We can choose to perceive and believe our circumstances as a seasonal condition, one that will lead us to bigger and better things in God’s own way and time.
When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, “If the people are faced with a battle they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea. Thus the Israelites left Egypt like an army ready for battle (Exodus 13:17-18).
Maybe his ways are telling us it is:
· A time for us to be reborn and a time to die to ourselves.
· A time to uproot our unresolved past and plant something new in its place.
· A time to kill certain behaviors and begin our healing process.
· A time to tear down strongholds in our life and build up our walls of protection.
· A time to seek occasions to laugh instead of finding reasons to weep.
· A time to mourn those we have lost and dance with the memories we have shared.
In my everyday struggles, I work to receive them as a lesson, a blessing or a change of season.
When I lost my job recently, instead of feeling angst or bitterness, I was thankful for that opportunity, the changes it caused me to make personally and sought the next season in my career. I have since found a new passion that could have only happened had I fully accepted my dismissal and embraced the unknown, as working for the Lord.
How have I reached this point?
I don’t take myself too seriously, I try not to worry (or sweat) about the small stuff, I don’t always have to be right or get “my way,” I don’t hang onto anything too tightly, I let God be God, I try to keep an eternal purpose and perspective in mind, and I remind myself every season will pass—enjoy it or embrace it.
There is a time for everything. Make this the time of your life.
Cliff Young is a contributing writer to Sandlot Stories (ARose Books), as well as the monthly column, "He Said-She Said," in Crosswalk.com's Singles Channel. An architect and former youth worker, he now works with Christian musicians and consults for a number of Christian ministries. Got feedback? Send your comments and questions to email@example.com.