I recently reached Senior Citizen status and was having a little trouble celebrating the event. It seemed a bit unreal—after all, wasn't I just 35 a year or two ago? Then I remembered: Oh yeah, the kids are married with families of their own. My husband and I downsized our home and I started working full time. And I have grandkids. I am way past 35.
I have now lived long enough to attain that "experience required" I saw so often on job postings when I was younger. When I look back at all these "experiences," I can see that they were not random events, but ways I have encountered God's presence in my life.
At times, I even feel like God has facilitated events in order to meet my needs. Like when I really was 35—a new Christian and hungry to know more about the Lord. I ended up working in a faith-based nursery school and being mentored by fellow teachers. Spiritually, this led me into a wonderful season of reading the Word and studying it in a small group.
Seeing God in Each Season
In the book of Ecclesiastes, the author (possibly King Solomon) says: "Everything on earth has its own time and its own season" (Ecclesiastes 3:1 CEV). Everything. As Solomon reflected back on his life, he realized that everything belonged—even events that seemed painful or contradictory. God can guide, lead, and teach us during each season of our lives.
"There is a time for birth and death,
planting and reaping,
for killing and healing,
destroying and building,
for crying and laughing,
weeping and dancing,
for throwing stones
and gathering stones,
embracing and parting.
There is a time
for finding and losing,
keeping and giving,
for tearing and sewing,
listening and speaking.
There is also a time
for love and hate,
for war and peace."
Ecclesiastes 3:2-8 CEV
If we rewrote these verses to personalize them for ourselves, I think we would see the scope of God's work in our lives. We would see our own times of planting and reaping, of weeping and dancing, of listening and speaking. Each season serves a purpose, revealing God's unique design for us. These verses invite us to embrace the time spent in each season, enjoying the time spent in God's presence and learning all that God has for us in order to prepare for the next one.
The Good, the Bad, the Ugly
The writer of Ecclesiastes reminds us, "God makes everything happen at the right time" (3:11).
Each of us can expect seasons of blessing and seasons of trial. God uses both of these to grow us. In our own short-sightedness, we may not see clearly the reason for the season we find ourselves in or the lessons to be learned from it. We get stuck or even impatient to move on, but be assured, God has a plan to redeem even the most painful experiences.
It is important to keep in mind that no matter which season we are in, good or bad, no season lasts forever. This was certainly good news when my days were fraught with the trials that accompany the raising of teenagers. Likewise in seasons where finances were tight, careers changed, or health concerns loomed large. But looking back, I can see that it was in these very circumstances that I tended to show the most growth, in my character and in my relationship with the Lord.
Discern Your Season
As you enter into the New Year, can you discern the season you are now in? Whether it is focused on family, relationships, career, health, or something else, bringing clarity is often a first step in getting a more focused view of the lesson God has for you. I may be way past 35, but I still have a lot of growing and stretching to do as I prepare for retirement. I feel compelled to nurture my relationships, practice gratitude, simplify my life, and learn to sit quietly in the presence of the Lord. And I hope to engage in the remaining seasons of my life to the fullest, taking advantage of all opportunities for growth offered by our Heavenly Father.
Want to make this New Year a season of being formed by Scripture?
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