Making Sense of SEASONS … ECCL 3:1-15
"Seasons are Heaven's brackets to seize Earth's time."
When God changes seasons it can be both energising and enlivening. They deliver 'the fresh new' and replace the 'old familiar'. They are another divine refreshment mechanism for our lives.
Each new season is to be entered with a thoughtful evaluation of the previous season. Russell Crowe in 'Gladiator' explained this well when He boldly claims from the floor of a dusty blood-stained arena '… for what we do in life echoes in eternity.'
I need never doubt about seasonal variations as they are indicated by change. It is always change that introduces the new season and concludes the previous one.
Season's express the finiteness of existence with both beginnings and endings. God both opens seasons and closes them. We can’t usually change seasons and there is no activity under heaven not governed by them.
Seasons are God’s careful planning mechanisms for time. God is no ‘last minute merchant’. He has planned ahead. Eternity is the absence of time but mankind lives outside of eternity within God's time-frames.
Seasons cover all facets of life and SCREAM God is sovereign until eternity is reached or becomes available to me. This reality is a source of hope because the seasons of pain are as finite as the seasons of pleasure. Isaiah speaks of how Jesus would enjoy such a change of seasons. After Jesus' season of suffering, He would move into a new season of satisfaction (Is 53:11).
Each season usually contains that which is good and bad in life - so both good and bad are always transitory.
Seasons can overlap! Any family with children in various stages of leaving home will understand that the move to 'empty nesting' from the season of family raising can be across years.
Living well in Seasons
We all 'need to number our days aright' (Ps 90:12). There is a short and most finite time to bear the fruit on this earth that God has chosen us to bear (Jn 15:16). Seasons are not therefore to be expended in just indulgence, the pursuit of self. To understand this is to gain a heart of wisdom. This then impacts even my daily behavior and occupation. God already has my time on earth in brackets - my days are ordained. I am bracketed by the date and time of my birth and the date and time of my death. (Ps 139:16)
Seasons show the time of correctness for the conduct of an activity. Sometimes this correctness is separated by 180 degrees. The valuable activity of a season can become valueless in the next. Don’t keep doing yesterday’s activity in today's season. Eccl 8:6 teaches there is a proper time for every matter. One season may be for study and the next one for work. It could actually be wrong to study while work is required. When I understand my season I can then understand the activity that is required or appropriate.
Each season however must still be conducted correctly and faithfully, without laziness and with honor. It is wrong to say 'this will finish, the work is short, so I can be lazy'. When a season is conducted correctly I arrive at the next season well and unhindered. There is a 'cause and effect' relationship between seasons. Laziness in one season can hinder a 'good' next season, and diligence in one season will invite a 'good' next season. (It is always so helpful to remember that we reap what we sow. Gal 6:7)
Seasons can however be redeemed. I can make a mistake or be lazy in one season that I don't repeat in the next. Seasonal changes are ideal opportunities to leave the unhelpful elements of life and my mistakes behind me (if possible).
It is not always helpful to ‘hold’ onto the good of previous seasons. Looking to the past can then rob my future. The new season then receives no fresh energy as the old one has not been released. (see Eccl 7:10) ' … can’t go forward by looking in the rear vision mirror'. The Bible counsels to discontinue the previous season when the new one arrives because there is a proper time for every matter.(Eccl 8:6) I can miss the Divine refreshment of a new season by looking behind me, because the refreshment is in front of me. Don't fear change, it can be liberating.
Seasonal change can well be God placing you at the foot of a new mountain to climb. When I appreciate this, it can assist me in the pain of a new ascent. Consider Moses at the foot of Mt Sinai. At 80 yeras of age he labors up the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments, life would forever change for Moses and the Israelites with God's laws. Moses' ascent marked a new season, his descent delivered it. Moses could never have climbed Mt Sinai (he was eighty years of age) if he had kept turning around and looking back. Just for a moment, consider Lot's wife who turned and gazed upon Sodom. She turned into a pillar of salt. Rearward looking is personally destructive. That which is solid becomes salt when the past is gazed upon. (Gen 19:26.)
The past can keep 'clawing' at the future. ‘Fear from the past can cripple the present and destroy the future'. It can be the biggest hindrance to a good fresh future. The past can keep clamouring to rule my present. "Forget the former things and look to God for the newer things." (Is 43:18-19)
Reflections on Eccl 3:1-15
There is a space and time for all things. God has shown to man a place without seasons. This place is heaven, it is the opposite of earth. It is a place where I will never be out of fashion for there will be no seasons where fashions come and go.
The real link between seasons is only that which we carry inside of us. This too is the link between heaven and earth. If I carry happiness and good deeds it is a gift of God. Such goodness carries the bearer very well between the seasons and the years. An understanding person will not choose to bear bitterness or resentments across time. They will only be pollutants to the fresh seasons.
There is the utter inevitability of seasons closing. Seasons are so constructed by God that we will understand this and will look to God, to revere Him. Seasons help us place God in His correct place. They are a catalyst that we may look to God. This is looking beyond seasons to He who holds them in His hands.
Seasons echo the impermanence of my actions and the permanence of God’s. His stay–mine don’t !
Finally no seasons are new, many have lived them previously but they are accountable (as they were for all who preceded me in them). There is only one season called 'life on earth' it is eternally important that I use it well.
Each new year marks off a new season, with the positive reflection that next year will be better.
Seasonal change is the perfect appointment for spiritual auditing ‘… to leave the past behind …’ (Phil 3:13) that the new can be enjoyed faithfully. Hindrances are to be removed, as previous entanglements will simply continue to entangle. (Hebs 12:1)
‘Fear from the past can cripple the present and destroy the future!'
IT IS THROUGH SEASONS THAT GOD SEEKS TO TAKE US FORWARD.