“There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for everything under the heavens.”
This opening verse tells us that there is a seasonality surrounding our lives in this world. It goes without saying that we benefit when we respect the season that is currently in vogue. Yes, we can make things happen out of season, but the results are not nearly as impactful. In season, our work benefits from the appropriate actions all around us. Out of season, we are totally on our own. Our goal should be to identify the season in which we live at any point in time, and adjust our work efforts to match what is going on around us for maximum results.
“A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.”
In this sweeping statement we see the whole of our life from beginning to end. We are reminded that at our birth we are ‘planted’ in this world, and when we die, we are in effect, ‘uprooted’ from this world. What we do, what we experience, what we accomplish is contained between these two events. This statement reminds us that we are not of this world. We come into it from afar, and we return from whence we came. We are here for a purpose. Books like, “A Purpose Driven Life” help us fill in the blanks between arriving here and leaving here. All throughout lives, we find ourselves being born into new circumstances and have to re-invent ourselves. Also, we recognize things that we have to extricate or uproot ourselves from time to time in order to grow.
“A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build.”
We think to ourselves, I could never kill another human being. Usually, that means we have never been faced with a kill or be killed situation and like to present ourselves to others as being a good person not given to violence. Yet, when we think of ourselves in comparison to a plant we know that at the end of the growing season when the plant has gone to seed, the remains are killed, torn down, and plowed back into the soil to be reabsorbed. All the fruits of the plant have been obtained and it is time to prepare and build for the next season of growth. There are times and circumstances when we must stand in the face of evil and do our best to overcome it, that is, kill it. Other times appear where our effort must be directed to healing the wounds of ourselves and others.
“A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”
During our lives we are faced with occasions of sadness at the loss of a loved one, difficult life circumstances, hurt or harm to the innocent that bring tears to our eyes. We mourn the loss and learn to walk around the hole left behind in our lives. Over time the season shifts and we learn to laugh again and even dance in joy again, though still mindful of the earlier loss but less stung by it. It is a hard lesson in the truth that life goes on in its parade of lives. We are reminded that we should make the most of every day for we know not the time nor the hour of our own passing.
“A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them; a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.”
Scattering stones brings to mind demolition of an old building. It had been painstakingly constructed one stone at a time but now it is time to remove it in preparation for something new. The old stones are gathered to be reused. The old structure had been embraced by its owner, perhaps families had used it, but now it is time to move on to a new purpose and so it is far from embracing in anticipation of the new structure that will replace it. Internally, we tend to gather and hold onto our old ways instead of embracing new opportunities to re-invent ourselves in order to be better used by the Lord to serve others.
“A time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away.”
When we want something strongly we go after it with all of our energy. We seek it and win it by efforts and resources, and intend to hold onto it with all our might. Yet, over time our desires and purposes change due to a change of season and life circumstances and we find ourselves ready to let it go. In the process we may even acknowledge we no longer want what we set out to win and look for ways to rid ourselves of what may have become an albatross around our necks. Nothing serves us better than casting away that which is out of season. Periodic inventories internally and externally will help us move on into new opportunities that present themselves.
“A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to be silent, and a time to speak.”
Watching a skilled seamstress rip out a seam so it can be re-sewn in a new place gives us a graphic that should be very helpful throughout our lives. Silently listening to others speak to us before jumping into the conversation is a discipline sorely needed in this world, and it is a way of rending out tendency to overstate our cause. When the other has had a chance to express themselves then and only then may we take a respectful turn to share our thoughts.
“A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time peace.”
Common wisdom tells us that the opposite of love is fear not hate. Yet, as we consider that fact we see that the reason people hate another person , is almost always because they fear them. So, it is important when we experience that strong dislike of another that we spend time to determine what we fear about them, and then deal with that issue. When we are successful in identifying and dealing with it, then and only then, will we be able to truly find peace in our hearts.
“What advantage has the worker from his toil? I have considered the task that God has appointed for the sons of men to be busied about. He has made everything appropriate to its time, and has put the timeless into their hearts, without man’s ever discovering, from beginning to end, the work which God has done.” Eccl 3:1-11