A Time for Everything
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens." - Ecclesiastes 3:1
A professor I had in college once summarized his main takeaway from the book of Ecclesiastes like this:
"Enjoy the good things in life, but don't let the good things become ultimate things."
Well. That right there sums up most of my struggles in life. Either I'm not enjoying the blessings I should be thankful for, or I'm looking to good things in my life to be more for me than they should be or ever could be.
I think nothing tests this more or makes my need for Jesus more clear than the changing seasons. In hard seasons I need to look for the good, and trust that God is working things for my good through the hard times. And in easy and fun seasons, I need to see that my ultimate joy and satisfaction comes from Jesus and not from the blessings themselves.
This photo seems random, but it's is a glimpse of part of my current season: My husband sitting on the stairs doing homework. He's not always sitting on the stairs when he works, but when I walked out of the bedroom last night and saw where he'd set up his computer it made me laugh and I had to capture it!!
Having just gotten married last February, people keep asking us what marriage is like and what we've learned, and it's a hard question to answer because there's SO. MUCH. Marriage has been the most fun, incredible, and joy-filled season. To be really known and unconditionally loved is such a picture of the Gospel, and it's humbling.
How God has really been working in my heart lately though, which has been difficult, is to show me my selfishness. It's a painful truth to look in the face, but it's also necessary for my growth. I keep finding myself feeling entitled to certain things in life that in no way am I entitled to - it's just selfishness creeping into my heart.
A huge area where I can feel entitled is with my time. I feel like I should have more time to myself, more time to rest, more time to enjoy Netflix, more time to spend with Zach, or sleep in etc. And I feel like it's all from the enemy that I feel like I deserve so much circumstantial rest, when my rest is supposed to be found in Jesus and placing my burdens and worries on Him. There are much more important things for me to be doing with my time than to sleep!!
As for this season, Zach being in school takes up a lot of his time at home in the evenings, but it's an incredible privilege. He gets to learn and grow in the Word so that ultimately he can be a better leader in ministry and care for people and do something impactful with his life. Right there - a good thing. An amazing thing!! But then, I can turn an amazing privilege that he has to grow, and turn it into a bad thing by looking at the negative side of how much time it takes. And on the flip side, I can take a good thing - Zach being my husband - and turn it into an ultimate thing by feeling like I need his time and attention more than he has the capacity for. Zach loves me so well and is super intentional with the time he gives me, and yet the sinful, selfish part of myself can rise up and convince myself that I still deserve more. And the battle for contentment begins. When in reality, all is well and I am BLESSED- but still, my selfish heart goes to war.
That's a real and raw example, but I wanted to show you how God is revealing selfishness in my life. It's ugly. And if I let it rule in my heart, it impacts more than just me. It's so easy to feel exhausted all the time. To dwell on the negatives. To hope that your next season might be a little bit easier than the present. To feel like we deserve a bit more than our circumstances offer us.
But this verse keeps coming to mind:
"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Give thanks. In ALL circumstances. THIS IS GOD's WILL FOR YOU.
Dang. That's pretty clear.
It's not about the circumstances at all. It's about the heart, the attitude of prayer and thankfulness. We are sitting in God's will if we take on that heart of contentment. Seasons will change. Everything comes and goes, and for everything there is a season.
My friend said this to me the other day and it stuck with me. He said -
"I am convinced, that even though we all face different things in our lives - some things that from the outside can look substantially harder than others - like martyrdom and persecution versus my stress over smaller problems - we all have circumstances in our lives that force us to need and rely on Jesus."
And I just wanted to encourage you guys that no matter what your current season is, that's what it's all about. To rest in Jesus, to find confidence and purpose and identity in Jesus. To give thanks. To pray. To rejoice in the goodness of our God. Our selfishness can lie to us, and we can feel like we deserve more. We can think that one more lazy night at home or one less project at work or a few more followers on instagram or even a few more friendships in real life will fix the void we have in our hearts.... but it's all a lie.
It is grace that our circumstances force us to rely on Jesus. Because where would be if they didn't?