Some of us relish a variety of seasonal climatic change and variety and can (or make a choice) to live in a place where we can experience the flow of spring to summer, summer to autumn, autumn to winter, and winter to spring, savoring the gifts of each season. I am one of those who love to see how each season unfolds, each being distinct from the other.
I am also aware that some have a strong preference of quite a different kind and like an almost perpetual summer. That is neither good nor bad, but simply a preference.
Each of us looks at time differently as well. Some of us prefer an unstructured use of time. We like to “go with the flow” while others like a more ordered scheduled way to handle time. There are many factors that can influence these preferences as well. A challenge in this area is when a clash of these views of time happen with people living together or working in an office together.
2020 has likely stretched all of us on these two areas with what this year has handed us no matter where we may live. King Solomon makes clear in Ecclesiastes 3 there is a season or time for “every activity under heaven” and in verse 11 of that chapter adds “God has made everything beautiful in its own time.” This year has tested our view of that when our plans have been altered or canceled entirely. We would especially find it hard to say “everything beautiful” in connection with 2020 perhaps.
We have often been watching from inside during the year and unsure of what good things we could say about the world around us more than many other years, times, and seasons.
I certainly can agree with that.
A favorite author of mine, Francine Rivers, offers a keen observation on this:
“What looks wrong, out of sync, or just plain ugly to us is simply unfinished to God. His plans are not yet complete. He has the ability to bring beauty out of everything – in its perfect time, which He alone determines.”From Earth Psalms by Francine Rivers
And there is the rub for us to grapple with – it’s HIS time, perfect timing. Although we may know a bit about that to one degree or another, it can still be difficult to be accepting of how much about times and seasons are outside of our control.
There is much that our Creator has given us choice about, but not all things.
“Some things we have choice in, some we don’t… It is the kind of world into which we were born. God created it. God sustains it.”From Run with the Horses by Eugene Peterson
It reminds me of what David says in Psalm 31: 15:
“My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors.”Psalm 31:15 (ESV)
David’s life and the heroic tales related to it is punctuated with grief and sorrow and malicious enemies pursuing him. Maybe it was this that caused him to understand that he had no other refuge except his faith in God which he references in verse 14 just prior to the one quoted here – “But I trust in you, O Lord…”
Charles Spurgeon spoke of this passage and the issue of times and seasons in a sermon in May of 1891 and shows us toward the path of understanding:
“The great truth is this – all that concerns the believer is in the hands of Almighty God. “My times”, these change and shift; but they change only in accordance with unchanging love, and they shift only according to the purpose of One with Whom there is no variableness nor shadow of turning. “My times”, that is to say, my ups and downs, my health and my sickness, my poverty and my wealth – all those are in the hand of the Lord, who arranges and appoints according to his holy will the length of my days, and the darkness of my nights. Storms and calms vary the seasons at the divine appointment. Whether times are reviving or depressing remains with him who is Lord both of time and eternity; and we are glad it is so.”From a sermon, “My Times Are in Thy Hand”, by Charles H. Spurgeon May 17, 1891
It is not in our purview to have the wisdom and knowledge of what fits best for us in his plans and purposes for us from beginning to end. Though we may sense God’s leading and calling on our lives, it is something that often evolves over time as doors close or open to guide us.
“Even in hindsight we don’t always see all the unseen forces at work in our lives. We aren’t always meant to.”Patti Callahan Henry
As this calendar year (for whatever it may be) marches forward, it is but one part of our story, and one part of God’s bigger story that unfolds toward the conclusion He has had in mind from the beginning – before time began. He will surely bring it to pass according to that plan even as history shows He has done from the beginning.