To everything there is a season.
Can you hear it? These words come with a melody. And most of us know the song to which they belong: “Turn! Turn! Turn!," written by Pete Seeger in 1965. Chances are, if you like it as much as we do, you’re probably humming it as you read this!
This song made history using words from Ecclesiastes, an Old Testament book of the Bible. The inspiration was written as practical, everyday observations of Solomon, who is considered to be the wisest person to ever live.
In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NLT), we read:
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.
While the melody is catchy, the tension in these verses carries a very stark reflection of life as we actually experience it. For example, in the annual cycle of seasons we can actually see a recurring pattern of planting and harvest, birth and death, scattering and gathering. Whether it’s a movement from one place to another, or the passing of one generation and the rising of another, we cannot escape the tension or the turning.
Even today, we feel it. Seasonal shifts are the most obvious of the changes. But there’s something more at work than just the changing of seasons. Things are turning in a new direction.
He’s drawing out dreams that have been dormant. He’s awakening hearts to desire more from life, work and relationships. He’s opening people’s eyes to witty inventions and creative solutions for things that will bring hope, healing and opportunity! And in this new thing, He’s challenging the status quo as we know it.
In times of change, it’s exciting (and a little scary) to think about what’s on the horizon. It’s reassuring to focus on the warm and fuzzy parts of Solomon’s words. There’s a sense of hope in the parts of the verses that emphasize things like laughter, mending, love, peace, healing and harvest.
And as tempting as it may be, we cannot ignore the tension and turning between seasons. Sometimes the tension in change reflects necessary but difficult decisions to turn away, let go or tear down. It’s a tension that we must face as we make some of the most important and even anticipated decisions of our life, like getting married, making a career change or moving from the place you've always called home. It’s the tension captured by a very simple but profound idea:
We’ve been here before. God has walked us both through many changes, personally and professionally. Much of the journey has been fun to look back on, but while we were in it, the experience was quite different.
As you see new opportunities come into view in your family, job or personal life, these scriptures from Ecclesiastes (and Pete Seeger) might mean more to you than ever before.
You feel the expectation
You sense the hope.
You know you’re stepping into something good...
And, yet, you also recognize the tension.
It lurks in the questions you ask as you count the cost of change.
What will this mean for my family?
What will I do if people disapprove?
What if I’m wrong about this?
What will this cost me, really?
How am I going to figure it all out?
It may be financial, emotional or physical, but more than likely, the greatest challenges will come from the places in your life that are relational in nature. You may face skepticism or even overt criticism from family and friends. Perhaps you’ll be misunderstood. Maybe your new path will take you away from things you’ve always known and into a new place of discovering who God made you to be. Maybe the changes God is making in you will be your greatest challenge.
Here’s what we’ve learned from navigating this tension in seasons of change.
We’ll say it again: God is stirring things up! And as He does so in your life, remember the wisdom of Solomon. Take note of the tension. And trust God in the transition.
He will guide you every step of the way.
Until next time… embrace change and keep building life well!