“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” Eccelsiates 3:1
“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Eccelsiates 3:11
I am fascinated by the various rhythms of my life and how they are received, realized and also managed. These rhythms, more often than not, have to do with time and its usage. I get into patterns and practices that to some degree define my usage of time. They are, for the most part, comfortable patterns and practices that I have either fallen into by default in a desire for life to be pleasant, or intentional rhythms I have deemed useful and life enhancing. Included in these rhythms are spiritual rhythms, as well. Most, if not all of them, I’ve grown to take for granted and I find comfort in their uninterrupted regularity.
But I also have become aware that certain experiences I like to prolong, while others I tend to avoid, depending on whether they make me feel good or not. What I am often doing in my choices to prolong or avoid certain experiences is to manage the time I have. The less desirable experiences I just want to get done quickly, while the more desirable experiences I want to give more time to. This can lead at times to unhealthy patterns that circumvent the authentic rhythms I was created to experience in life.
These past few years have introduced a significant alteration in the established rhythms of my life. At the beginning of 2019 my wife experienced a stroke that left her without a great deal of function in her left arm, hand and leg. She still could think and communicate well, so it could have been worse. I know that I cannot really imagine her experience, I can only try to identify as best I can. What I do know is that my life took on a new agenda regarding her care and how best to love her that I had not anticipated. This experience has altered the comfortable and familiar rhythms of my life in new ways.
Reading the Old Testament book of Ecclesiates the writer’s words have impacted my thinking about time and the appropriate rhythms of my life. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens”. This statement has been a reminder that time has been designated in an appropriate manner for the wide variety of experiences one might have on this earth. Yet I am not the one who has determined and designated what is appropriate to the time, but the creator of the time, the seasons and the rhythms of life has given me each moment as a gift to be received. My error lies in the fact that I look at time as something to be managed, allotted and used in the ways I think are appropriate rather than realizing that someone with far greater wisdom knows the purpose of the time. In Ecclesiates 3 the writer lists a whole lot of things that I would prefer to avoid as having an appropriate time; things like death, uprooting, tearing down, mourning, giving up and throwing away. I’d much rather just give my time to seeing newborn babies than to realize that death awaits us all.
With this in mind, I am now faced with the prospect that the interruption of the comfortable rhythms of my life is the gift of time God has prepared for me presently. The key, like the writer of Ecclesiates says, is to find that “all things” are beautiful in this time. Rather than trying to escape the time or manage the time, I am encouraged to look for the beauty God has made in this time and receive that gift from Him.
As my wife continues to progress in the daily work of recovering the usage of her arm, hand and leg, I am faced with a different task, which is to find the beauty in this new rhythm and season we are experiencing together with the Lord. It is not easy to see, for I have defined beauty in such a narrow way. But God in His infinite wisdom is providing an opportunity to have my perspective and understanding of beauty, grace and goodness enlarged. This is a new season and God has provided the appropriate time to see His purpose accomplished in me, my wife and in our world.
As you consider this day and the season in which you presently find yourself, I wonder how you might experience the beauty imbedded by God that may be, as yet, unfamiliar. May you discover God’s beautiful gift of grace and transformation in this moment designed by our loving Creator. Here is a song to further your reflection.