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As we embark upon another new year, I’d like for us to take a look at Ecclesiastes 3. This chapter starts with the following statement: To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven. For many of us, we are in seasons that we are questioning, whether individually or societally. Some of the seasons have just started, while others have been quite long. If our seasons have been easier, we take solace. If they have been more difficult, we lament. Either way, many of our seasons are given to us with intention. God is doing all that He can to ensure our journeys are perfecting us in His will, but that does not negate our ability to choose. The decisions we make have the power to extend seasons, shorten them, or introduce new ones into our lives and the lives of others.
Do Not Rebel Against the Lord
Take the Israelites, for example. After God brought them to the promised land, they decided not to enter based on the feedback of 10 out of the 12 spies. Those ten spies saw the stature of those who already inhabited the land and became afraid. Only two spies – Joshua and Caleb – believed that no matter the situation, God would still be faithful to His word. They stated in Numbers 14:8-9:
If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’ Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them.”
Each of the spies had a choice to make, before and after scouting out the land. They could choose to align themselves with God’s promises, or to what they could verify with their own eyes. Joshua and Caleb made the choice to trust in God; the other ten decided to trust in self. For the spies that doubted God, their fear caused them to believe that by entering the promised land, they would enter into a season of losing. In truth, however, it was actually their time to gain. Led by darkness, these spies went on to convince their community to abandon God’s promise and His gift.
A nation was disobedient, and the result was that they would wander in the wilderness for forty more years. A generation would have to die out – with the exception of Joshua and Caleb – before they could return to the promised land. In God’s grace, those forty years gave those who doubted an opportunity to have a season of repentance and reconnection. Nevertheless, they still would have to feel the consequences of their decisions.
A Time for Every Purpose
Such an outcome is a cautionary lesson for you and me. If we aren’t careful, we’ll miss out on the beautiful seasons God intends for us to experience. Whether from our own fears and doubts, or the influence of others, we can become so blinded that we choose disobedience. When this happens, we’ll stay in places longer than we’d like as we miss out on the places we’re being called to go. When God teaches us that “To everything, there is a season”, this is not just about the external experience. A time for every purpose starts within.
If we consider the choices the Israelites made, we see an example of what we allow to enter internally impacting what we experience externally. Never forget that our internal seasons matter to our overall wellbeing. God wants us to know that there is a time to gain divine understanding, and a time to let go of wisdom that comes from this world. There is a time to heal from the brokenness that blocks our blessings, and a time to throw away habits that tear us down. If the untrusting Israelites had only used their time to build up their relationship with God, they would’ve had the faith needed to enter the promised land. But they did not, so they could not.
A Wise Man Fears and Departs from Evil
We read in Proverbs 14:16 that: A wise man fears and departs from evil, But a fool rages and is self-confident. It’s not that a wise man never encounters evil or succumbs to it. Instead, a wise person recognizes the errors in his or her own ways and departs from them. Furthermore, when we seek God’s wisdom, He also gives us the gift of discernment. We then can recognize the darkness when we encounter it, as to remove ourselves from those situations and/or people. A fool, on the other hand, disregards the path God is trying to reveal, instead relying on self to guide the way.
If we refer back to the Israelites, we’ll realize this wasn’t their first error against God. It was, however, the one where God said – you’ve gone too far. We read God’s response to their disobedience in Numbers 14:27. He starts off by saying: How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who complain against Me? We forget that mercy is at God’s discretion. If we do not depart from evil, we will reap what we sow. Nevertheless, each day that we wake up is another chance for us to starting living our lives differently. We can work on the areas where we are weak, as we express gratitude and humility for the areas where God has given us strength.
To Everything there is a season
It is only through Him, that we have the power to change our seasons for the better. Proverbs 3:5-6 reminds us of this when the scriptures read: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. It can be difficult to embrace the seasons that bring us tribulation but remember – To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. If God is directing our paths, then He can direct us from seasons of darkness into seasons of light. With God, there is always hope and a reason to not give up. Don’t let fear cause you to miss out on your blessings. Instead embrace God in this journey, as we enter into this new year.
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