There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.
Every time I read this verse, it catches me because it seems I always run out of time. The day shortchanges me. No matter how carefully I plan, something takes longer than I expected, something interrupts my rhythm, sets me back, and frustrates me.
But what if I am not supposed to be as much in charge of my time as I thought? What if I am not the keeper of my time but a servant to it?
Serving time is one implication of Solomon’s reminder. Serving time in the right season is another. I don’t know about you but I can be on time in the wrong season. I have pages of lists and goals that I worked through without clear direction about their seasonal timing. I have buried myself in worthy projects according to good time management principles only to realize that I was working on them in the wrong season. Coordinating the rhythms of times and their seasons is a challenge. Struggle threatens when they are not synchronized by the less daily and more eternal time God directs us by. When I am overwhelmed, I need to cooperate more by fine tuning the balance between how I use my time in the unexpected season I find myself in. I need to post Solomon’s poetic list of seven contrasting seasons as my new perpetual calendar and flip through its pages to find where I am. Contentment is the gift of balance not busyness.
God gives us time to do everything that will make us into the person He always knew we could be. We really don’t have time to over-plan, over-extend, and over-tire our minds and bodies. In the way God measures time, it is more waste than productivity to live out of season even when we get a lot done. We forget that everything we do, dream about, work for, recover from; happens within the time God gives us. God created, orchestrates, dispenses, and rings the alarm on time periods and processes that really aren’t ours to begin with. Time is His gift not our possession. God “appoints” our time and the question we must ask ourselves is whether we keep the appointment.
How we must hurt God’s generous heart when we do not understand His time as gift and complain about shortages He never approved. Time is not the taskmaster we must feed with as many completed tasks as we can cram into the hours of a day. Time is our benefactor, giving us what we need. Time is our manna. We can’t store it but we can lose it.
I started meditating on this passage in the days before, during, and after the death of our forty-year-old daughter who had lived a challenged life with a unique set of special needs. When the doctors told us we had months not years, we began to view time differently. Time wasn’t a calendar page to keep turning, it was an hour glass and we couldn’t stop losing the sand that measured our remaining time. I read “time for everything” and felt the responsibility to serve this time not fight it. As a result, I remember that time of losing without regrets about how we used the time God gave. While it didn’t soften our grief, it didn’t complicate it with stress and struggle.
"A time for everything," Solomon the Wise reminds us. So if I’m short on time, maybe I am trying to manage it like a supervisor oversees people who must do as they’re told. Maybe I should try showing up for God’s appointment, serve His priorities, and make my use of His time and season as my gift to Him. If God wants to make everything beautiful in His time, we must learn to live by the rhythms of His seasons and the balance of the increments that move us forward. I think we might enjoy the journey better if we do. Maybe smell more roses, see more sunsets, develop a spirit of wonder, and look into the future with expectation to live our seasons ready for the next.
In the next couple of months we will take a slow journey through Solomon’s seasons. I hope you will personalize it. Find out what season you are in and what you need to learn while you journey through it. No season can take you down if God has prepared you for it.
Praying for your seasonal growth and mine,