I live in a part of Australia that doesn’t have the traditional four seasons that we think of when we say seasons. But we still do have seasons. We have the wet season and the dry season. Original words aren’t they!! But I think there is another season called the “build up” which is just before the wet season – the reason why I see that as a season is because it is completely different than either wet or dry season.
The Build up is a horrible time of the year – it is heavy, humid, hot. We start seeing clouds and it will go for days where we think it’s just gotta storm, its just gotta. But it doesn’t. The clouds go away for a bit and then they come back again – maybe to break into a storm, but probably not. The Build up is characterized by a heavy humidity without the relief of rain. The rain comes, the consistent rain, the rain that makes everything bearable, comes in the wet season.
It is the characteristics of each season that gives it its very name. We all know the characteristics of the seasons – each traditional season of summer, autumn, winter, spring. We learn those characteristics in preschool. We learn that in winter it is cold, and we need to dress appropriately. In spring we can look for flowers. In summer we go to the beach. Stereotypes for sure, but they are the things we associate with the different seasons.
Now the reason I’m talking about seasons here is because I believe there are seasons in our life as well. Specific blocks of time that have their specific characteristics. In nature each season has its purpose, each season has it’s challenges and opportunities, we prepare for each season, and each season brings about a sense of change and different rhythms.
We can see these seasons, and change of seasons in nature – we also have to recognise that there are season in our own life. There will be blocks of time that come and go – they only last for a ‘season’. There will be change and new rythms that we need to get used to. There will be certain characteristics, certain tasks and opportunities that we need to do if we are to make the most of the season.
If I kept wearing my jeans and jacket from the dry season into the build up season I will be uncomfortable, unproductive, and out of sorts generally. Seasons come and go and we need to go with it. There is a sense that we cannot control the seasons – either in the weather sense, or in our own life.
We may be unsettled by the change of seasons in our own life, but we need to know, be assured, that God knows, nothing takes God by surprise. In fact he not only knows but orchestrates the seasons as well.
Daniel 2:21 (GN) God controls the times and the seasons. He makes and unmakes kings.
One of the sayings, I guess like a mantra that I have held onto as seasons change in my life is that: Each Season has its purpose – and with purpose comes opportunities and limitations.
There are three aspects to this that I want to break down for you today
- Each season has its purpose
- Each season has its opportunities
- Each season has its limitations
Each season has its purpose:
We find purpose by walking with God, by obeying his word, and working with the things he gives us to do. One of the biblical images that Peter and I often refer to is God asking Moses – What is that in your hand? God then goes on to use the staff, and to affirm to Moses that he is indeed the one God wants to use.
We often refer to this image and ask ourselves – what is it in our hand, what has God given us? The answer to that question helps us understand our purpose. Some of those things God has given us to do last only for a short time, others last for a longer time.
The challenge comes to us when we are discontent with what God has given us.
One of the saddest things is for a woman to miss all the opportunities that are in this season of her life, because she is looking over the fence at something God hasn’t given her, or looking back into the past, and wishing for life to be different.
My statement: Each Season has its purpose – and with purpose comes opportunities and limitations – is really driving towards contentment. If we can see that we have purpose in this moment, if we can see the opportunity and accept the limitations we can find contentment in our lot.
Each season has it’s opportunities
When we come to a place of contentment – accepting, and even being thankful for the things God has given us we can start to see the opportunities that are unique to our situation.
I’m sure you’ve seen the thankful lists that say something like:
I’m thankful for
- Dirty dishes that prove I fed my family
- Disturbed nights which mean I have children to love
- Laundry that means we have clothes to wear
Dirty dishes, sleepless nights and endless piles of laundry isn’t the work of purpose – but looking after my family is. This list is about finding the opportunities that are in the season of life that we are in and having an attitude adjustment.
When we can be thankful for the things that God has given us – the things that make up our life – then we can start to seek him for direction as to how to do the best with that. Moses constantly talked to God about what to do next with these people God had given him to lead. We need to be the same – we need to constantly ask God for answers to the challenges we face with the things God has given us.
When we get busy engaging with what is in our hand, then we really should have no time to be gazing over the fence at other things.
Each season has it’s limitations
The thing is we can’t do it all – there are some things that simply put – don’t belong in this season of our life. It is hard to let go of a dream, or great idea, or even an opportunity – but if now is not the time, then now is not the time!
Eccl 3:2-8 says that there will be good and bad seasons in life – seasons to be born and die, seasons to plant and uproot, seasons to speak up and be quiet, seasons to laugh and seasons to cry. I’m sure you are familiar with the passage. There is a right time for everything. The difficulty comes in our own heart when we start wanting what is set aside for a different season of life.
We need to accept our limitations. As any mother knows how painful it is to see a toddler keep pushing and pushing on the boundaries! That is what it must be like for God our heavenly father to see us not accepting the limitations of the current season of life.
Getting back to Moses now – there came a time when Moses couldn’t do it all. He had so many little details to deal with he cried out to God and said – I can’t do it all! God didn’t tell him to apply more discipline, be more self controlled, be more focused. No. God said – it isn’t for you to do – set up men around you to take care of those details. The same situation is found in the New Testament when the pastors and elders got so busy with preaching the word that the Greek widows were not being cared for. The instruction was to find men who could do this task; to find deacons.
We aren’t meant to do it all.
On Peter’s and my wedding day a older man in our life prayed for us and he prayed that we would be able to discern good ideas from God ideas, that we would have many opportunities but that we were only to take the God opportunities. This prayer has been a constant reminder to only do that which is in keeping with God’s plans.
When we ignore the seasons of life we fill our heart with distractions. Distractions and discontent are very much linked – as they affect our heart much the same. I guess when we are discontent with our lot we fill our heart, fill our lives with many other things looking for the things that we feel we lack. We might fill our days with good deeds thinking that will make us acceptable – acceptable to either God or the people around us. We might fill calendar to the brim helping people out because we can’t say no. We might push ourselves to exhaustion keeping up with the people around us regardless of their season of life.
Comparisons and competition are also enemies of contentment. The thing with comparing ourselves to another isn’t so much the acknowledging that there is a difference, but somehow we internalise that difference to be a weakness in ourselves. It is this aspect that makes comparisons so damaging.
Five things happen when we compare:
- We feel less than the other person because we see their successes and our failures or limitations.
- We feel guilty because we haven’t made it yet, and we really should have!
- We are distracted and start doing things to be like that other person.
- We are exhausted because our goals are unrealistic
- We are robbed of our joy because we are not being true to ourselves.
This is a big issue – for some reason women put a lot of pressure on themselves to meet the standards of other people. WE need to find a confidence that we are doing the right thing for us. Isn’t this what we want for our children? We need to be able to do this for ourselves as well. Regardless of what others are doing to fill their day, we have to be clear what our purpose is. There is to be no comparisons, no competition.
I guess this is all tied up with being content with what God has given us to do. When we know what is in our hand, when that is enough, when we are confident in knowing God will help us we don’t nee dto look else where for the peace that our heart strives for.
As I look back over the years of my parenting, or my marriage really, I can see where seasons of life have influenced what I have taken on, and what I have let go.
When I was first married I set myself a goal to establish a housework routine so that I had habits before kids came along. I also set myself a goal to have a repertoire of recipes that I could cook simply and serve to guests, so that when babies came along we could still be hospitable. This gave me a sense of purpose in those early years when we were married.
When Nomi was a baby and diagnosed with a Whilms tumor (which ended up being benign) we had a refocus of what was important in our family life. In order to keep security, harmony and joy we had to let some things go.
Peter works takes him to many of the cattle stations across the north of WA and the Northern Territory – this gave us an opportunity to go camping in a few spots that are not marked. It also spoilt us as we don’t like sharing our camping spots!!
When my kids where young, I started a homeschool co-op and each of the kids stayed till about year 11. The last year or so was hard for each of them, as they had very few peers who were going to the co-op activities. But they pushed through. When Daniel got to the stage that he pulled out, I also pulled out. This was a hard decision, but it was right for the stage my family was at in that moment.
I am currently in a new season of life. My kids are all-but grown up. Daniel is a few weeks away from 18, though he is still homeschooling for this year. The kids lives have expanded beyond the walls of this house – they are involved not only in study and work, but they have community involvement and friend circles outside of the family involvement. This is a good thing. This is them starting to find purpose for their life and I want to be supportive of that without hanging on and holding them back.
You see that is the thing about seasons – they move on. And we have to move on with them. Just like I said before we will be uncomfortable if we hang onto our winter clothes in the summer months. If we hold onto our children, and not let them fly just because we had a great family life when they were young – we are not moving through the seasons of life as we should be.
This can be a temptation for any season of life that comes to an end. It is hard to deal with change. I wrote a blog post – which I’ll link to in the show notes – but the gist of was that when change comes we can
- Trust God for the outcomes – There is nothing that throws us onto God more than change and uncertainty. Trusting God regardless of the circumstances is what brings peace to our heart instead of anxiety.
- We can pray – When we commit to praying to God even in the midst of our confusion and uncertainty we are acknowledging that God is in control, that he is bigger than our circumstances, and that he is still my God, still loves me, and still talks to me.
- We can be grateful – when I say thank you for the good things in my life I gain perspective – God is still God.
So lets wrap this up:
When we know our purpose we have clarity for what we should be doing.
When we know that there are opportunities within that purpose it gives us hope that we can be fulfilled.
When we know that there are limitations and we can’t do it all we gain balance to our lives.
So I have question for you – are you looking over the fence filling your heart with ideas that are beyond the things that God has put in your hand for the now?
Galatians 6:9 says, Let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.
There will be fruit for your labors in this season of your life. The fruit may be in your own walk with Jesus, it may be in your own maturity in how you respond to life, it may be in relationships or even in the life of your kids – but if we stay on track with the things that God has given us to do – he promises us fruit.
Over to you:
How would you describe the season of life that is your ‘now’? And how to you keep yourself content?
Being Intentional in a Season of Change In the midst of being shaken, confused, hurt and angry because of change, we can focus on Jesus and find peace, joy and hope.
The Issue with Comparing Ourselves: Comparing ourselves with others is not helpful, instead we need to know how we can learn from others.
Words I live by: God’s Grace is Sufficient: God’s grace is more than salvation, it is God’s power to live life; His power enabling us to be more like Christ.