This winter has been a strange one, hasn’t it. Well, it has if you live in Southern Ontario. We who live in this part of North America are very used to 4 full seasons. Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer. Even though we are in the middle of winter, it has been a season that sure doesn’t feel like ‘our’ winters. You can appreciate how easy it is for a resident in Toronto to forget how cold or snowy winter can get while in the middle of one of the most warm winters we’ve had in a long time. Until of course we have a weekend where the temps drop to -25 followed by a couple of days of snow. Just when you thought you might escape old man winter, he shows up and reminds us that he’s still as ugly as ever.
What this does is bring us back to reality – we’re reminded that we live in a country with 4 full seasons. Seasons are wonderful for a few reasons, first, because they don’t last, and second, they help us appreciate what we’re saying bye to (winter) or saying hello to (summer).
Life is made up of many seasons. Some good, some bad. Some long, some short. Some warm and some cold. Good or bad, seasons are meant to be temporary.
One writer helps us put to words why the long view of seasons, identifying them, and discerning how to navigate through them, is the best way to live. He says…
When we view our lives as a string of random days connected only by a calendar it’s easy to overlook the active movement of God.
Our ability to identify seasons of our lives increases our ability to co-operate with God, recognize his guiding hand, follow his lead, and expect the end of one season as the beginning of the next.
This leads us to the topic of Discernment. Identifying what comes next and deciding which way to go.
But first, Ecclesiastes 3…
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace
We can’t look at all of these, but it is worth taking a quick look at a few of them that hit home a little more.
Mourning vs Dancing
The writer of Ecclesiastes touches a sensitive topic here – grieving something that is lost. As we look at the grand scheme of our life we will notice times where we grieved and other times where we celebrated. The wisdom in this phrase is to take the opportunity to fully grieve when needed, but not stay there too long, while on the other side, ensure that one appreciates the good they are experiencing, as it won’t/can’t last forever.
Embracing vs Refraining to Embrace
This can be seen as relationship advice. (Enough said there) However, we can view this as how and when we embrace new challenges or opportunities. There are times to welcome a new challenge or jump into new opportunities. There are also times when we should refrain from them. An example might be financial opportunities. If you’re ready to take on a risky venture then it may be the time to do so, but if you’re struggling to make it by, then investing in something, as good as it looks, may not be the best thing for you to do. The question is, will you know the difference?
Keeping vs Throwing Away
This phrase may sum up our SIMPLIFIED series. We are attempting to declutter our lives so that we can hear God’s whisper. We must discern what we keep and what we let go of, when we keep and when we let go of things.
Silence vs Speaking
This may be the most challenging of all to figure out. When do we talk? When do we speak? When do we listen? When do we add to the conversation? Sometimes we say more when we say nothing. Other times we have to speak up. A friend may need you to listen, but that same friend may also need you to speak up and challenge them on a certain issue.
4 important things about viewing our life in seasons…
Identify your current season
– name it, call it, don’t hide from it
Be fully present in your season
– dive into it…tough season, own it…good season, celebrate it
What does God want to teach you
– If you believe God’s hand is in your season, then you’ll see the purpose to his activity. Don’t squander opportunities to learn and grow.
Recognize when the season is over
– which leads to that big word again, DISCERNMENT
People who discern well are those who…
– desire to know what God is up to
– ask God what is next…
– are open to hear God’s answer or thoughts
– really believe that God cares about them, their circumstance, their present and their future
Some scripture to consider as you think about discernment in times of choice.