It’s kind of strange how we view seasons.
For example, in the fall I was getting ramped up knowing that winter was coming. After a hot summer and cool fall, I was ready once again for winter. Living in the midwest, we truly get four unique seasons, though sometimes, I have to admit that each just seems a slightly different version of winter.
I enjoy our winters here – pure white on the ground and trees, as if God gave us His own blanket to stay warm. I love to cross-country ski and hear the crunch of the snow underneath my skis as I glide along effortlessly.
Seasons mean change
But then something changes. I cannot mark the date on the calendar, but my heart and mind begin to anticipate a new season – or really just something that is non-winter. As I write this post, I am on the back deck of my house, 72 degree weather, looking at all of the dormant life gracefully coming back into its existence.
The skis are put away and now I am anticipating the leaving of winter and the entrance into spring.
This past week, the college at which I had been employed for 11 years found out that its strategic ally was not going to move forward with its partnership as was previously announced. No branch campus up here, no academic offerings, no students to continue to invest in and be invested by. No summer camp. No school for my daughter in the fall. It appears at this point that Northland, as I have known it, will cease to exist after this year’s graduating class.
And though I have moved on to a new ministry within the past year, it is hard to think of Northland moving on.
Embracing new seasons
As the seasons of the earth, in a sense, define us and shape us, so the seasons of our life do the same.
The loss of winter, spring, summer, and fall are not terribly difficult to say good-buy to as we know that in 9 months a new winter, new spring, new summer, and new fall will arrive. They will look different, have varying weather patterns, have highs and have lows, but we anticipate the new season because we have been there before.
Solomon has a word for us
Ecclesiastes is probably not a book of the old testament in which we plant ourselves for extended times of reading. For many it elicits a “what in the world is he talking about?” type of response.
But Solomon’s musings in this book are really just what many of us are thinking at times and just afraid to say out loud.
As I was thinking about this post, my mind quickly went to an insightful passage at the beginning of Ecclesiastes chapter 3:
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
“So what is the big deal?” you may ask?
“I get it – we are born, we die, we plant, we harvest, we stay silent, we speak.” you might reply.
But perhaps there is more.
The Message version uses the phrase “a right time for….”
A right time. A correct time. An opportune time. An appropriate time.
I look at all of these thoughts in Ecclesiastes and then find some clarifying words just a few verses later:
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
Did you catch that? God has made everything beautiful. When? In its time.
Beauty…within the boundaries
In addition, God has put eternity in man’s heart. In other words, God has created this vast hole in our lives, so vast, that only He can fill it. He designed us that way.
Seasons of life are no more meant to be held on to than the four seasons of this earth. And as I yearned for the winter to come, I am now letting it go because of the anticipation of spring and summer. And I do not embrace spring and summer because of the mere concept of spring and summer. I embrace them because of the fresh opportunities that lie ahead – people to see, things to do, adventures to have.
For me the thought of “letting go” of Northland is difficult and just plain strange. It does not seem like its “season” should be ending. But like it or not, all good things have a shelf life. A beginning, and at some point, an end.
And that means before I even know how the whole Northland story is going to end (and God may surprise us all!), I am being challenged within to see the end of this season…and let go.
This world is, at best, temporal. It is ever-changing, full of seasons that begin and end. To have otherwise may make me not long as much for heaven, where my satisfaction will be eternal and a new beginning is in store…a blissful forever with an unchanging Jesus.
Seasons of excitement
Letting go of the seasons of this earth to embrace the new seasons are not terribly hard for me because I have lived through 48 different cycles of winter, spring, summer, and fall. Letting go of seasons of life…well…is more challenging and painful. Each new season seems so unknown when in actuality, if you looked at the breadth of my life, it has been full of winters – when things seem kind of dead, full of springs – when life begins to start “budding,” full of summers – when life is in bloom and growth is in full swing, and full of autumns – when growth slows down.
But know this. Every season of life has its beauty and every season of life has its purpose.
Not too long ago, God allowed something to happen to me in which the news could have seemed devastating. But after praying through with my wife, I realized I could fight to keep that season of life going, or I could embrace what was unknown and choose to give thanks for the chapter in which I had grown so very much.
God used that event to close a chapter in my life only to find out that He had a new season of life for me that I could not have guessed in a hundred years. He closed a season only to give me what I was desiring all along.
I just did not know it.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4)
This will be a great season – a final season – in which to enter.