We often talk of the change of seasons. The change of high-school to college life. The change from single fly-by-the-seat-of-my pants to marriage and sudden responsibility. The change of a loved one passing away. The change of a close friend moving to another city, or perhaps you yourself moving. Seasons come and go. The only thing consistent with seasons is that you know that they will change.
No one says it as well as King Solomon:
“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven:” Ecclesiastes 3:1 (emphasis added).
He goes on to give examples of what there is a certain time for; living, dying, laughing, weeping, the list goes on. However we might wish it, we cannot hold on to a season forever. No matter how much we may love spring, it will always turn to summer. Children love the Christmas season and are always sad to see it pass so quickly.
In these musings I turn to the Scriptures. One might ponder on the lives of some of the heroes of our faith such as Joseph, Paul, Moses, Elijah, Daniel; even some of those less well beloved but that can be learned from: Saul, Samson, Aaron, too many to list here. Every character that we have enough information to study more than merely basic details of their lives have recorded of them different seasons of life. These include good and bad, easy and hard, trial and temptation, victory and joy.
You will notice with me the lack of one thing in these accounts of our heroes. The season is not exalted. The time that they go through is not highlighted so much as their response in them. It is shown recorded for us on many accounts a) how they heard the voice of the Lord and b) how they responded to it. In the instances that God did not speak directly to them, we are only given their response to what they know to be right. What made them either a champion to us or an example of what not to do was how they responded in the season they were in.
Solomon responded well in the hard time. His father was dead. He was given one of the greatest kingdoms of all times to rule. God came and spoke with him. All he wanted was to rule his people well. But by the end of his life, when things were perhaps a little too easy, he turned from his God. His response was less than desirable and he is one that is said to have not “finished well”, to use a Christian colloquialism. (1 Kings 3,11)
Daniel is one of our great champions. As a young man he is dragged from his home. Quite possibly, his family was killed before his eyes. He is taken as a captive and put in the palace of a foreign ruler, his fate yet to be decided. What does he do? He holds to the high standards of Judaism that he was so carefully taught even within his own corrupt society. “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” Daniel 1:8 (emphasis added) It would have been SO easy for him to have put his head down and done whatever was told him, but he refused.
Later in his life when confronted with death or a mere change of daily habit (prayer). He chose the former. Why? Because to him his response to the Lord in a season of hardship was of far greater weight than anything man could do to him. (Daniel 6)
We spend so much of our time talking about the season of life that we are in. We make excuses for ourselves and allow other to do it for us as well. Could you imagine if Daniel had made an excuse for himself? “I just lost my family.” “I don’t know the customs of Babylon.” “I’m just emotional.” That last one makes us smile to ourselves. Yes, our greatest champions of our faith were human just as we are. A thousand emotions barraged them in their darkest hour. Doubt, condemnation, discouragement, even hopelessness is recorded on more than one occasion. But what was their ultimate response?
David turned to his great Shepherd and sang (Psalm 57:1). Daniel turned to his King and prayed (Daniel 6:10). Elijah turned to his God and requested fire and rain (1 Kings 18). Paul got up from the pile of stones and went back into the city (Acts 14:19-20).
What will your response be in this season? Not to your pastor. Not to your spouse or children or roommate. Not in your wishful thinking. But in your heart of hearts to your God. What will your resolve be? How will you choose to respond in the hard seasons? The good? Some of us know how to respond when its hard but as soon as the pressure lightens, we go our own way. Some of us do really well as long as it is smooth sailing, but when the storm blows we sink.
Choose to respond to the Lord. Choose to finish well. Don’t long for another season. We have no guarantee of tomorrow. What if tonight you stood before your Lord and Maker? How would you give account of the life you have lived? Would you hear the coveted words, “Well done!” or instead, “I never knew you.” Hear the call of your Lord. Run to win! Run to finish well. Don’t let there be dark seasons that you don’t want to give account for. Turn your eyes to Him and give Him your heart.
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.” I Corinthians 9:24
“Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12