Ecclesiastes 3 (NRSV)
Everything Has Its Time
3 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
The God-Given Task
9 What gain have the workers from their toil? 10 I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with. 11 He has made everything suitable for its time; moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live;13 moreover, it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil. 14 I know that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it; God has done this, so that all should stand in awe before him. 15 That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already is; and God seeks out what has gone by.
This time of year has always held a mixture of excitement and nerves. As a kid I loved getting new school clothes and the neat nick in me loved the clean notebooks and the perfectly sharpened pencils with the new erasers. I still like that part of it. Buying new school clothes or uniforms and checking off everything on my kids’school supply lists, gives me a sense of satisfaction as if I’ve accomplished something. Add to it the list of things that you have to complete when you’ve not only moved schools and communities, but states, and even my peppy cheerleader organizational mode gets tired and discouraged. Ever notice how a bad attitude is contagious? It really IS. (Christian music is what keeps me positive. Without it? Yikes!) When you’ve had to go to the DMV over 5 times to get your license and license plates, all arrows are pointing to God teaching you patience, perseverance and endurance. It’s a constant test. The corollary is true too. As hard as it sometimes is to choose joy instead of frustration, it’s well worth it in our workplaces, with our friends, and DEFINITELY with our families. So after the fourth time at the DMV, I stopped by a craft store and bought this picture, as a reminder to choose joy.
Today after Point Hope’s prayer time, where we intentionally pray for the prayer request cards lifted on Sunday and anything a person has asked us to pray for, this Mandisa song came on the radio as I was listening in my office. It’s called “He is With You” and below are the video and the lyrics.
There’s a time to live
And a time to die
There’s a time to laugh
And a time to cry
There’s a time for war
And a time for peace
There’s a hand to hold
In the worst of these
He is with you when your faith is dead
And you can’t even get out of bed
Or your husband doesn’t kiss you anymore
He is with you when your baby’s gone
And your house is still, and your heart’s a stone
Cryin’ God, what’d You do that for
He is with you
There’s a time for yes
And a time for no
There’s a time to be angry
And a time to let it go
There is a time to run
And a time to face it
There is love to see you
Through all of this
He is with you in the conference room
When the world is coming down on you
And your wife and kids don’t know you anymore
He is with you in the ICU
When the doctors don’t know what to do
And it scares you to the core
He is with you
We may weep for a time
But joy will come in the morning
The morning light
He is with you when your kids are grown
When there’s too much space and you feel alone
And you’re worried if you got it right or wrong
Yes He is with you when you’ve given up
On ever finding your true love
Someone who feels like home
He is with you
When nothing else is left
And you take your final breath
He is with you
It was a perfect song for me to listen to right then. There’s a time and a season for everything and God is with us through it all. We choose every day and all throughout the day whether to grasp hold of the negative or we choose to give it to God and choose joy because we trust and believe God can make a way when there doesn’t seem to be one.
Even when this tired Mommy Pastor is worried about “Meet the Teacher” on Thursday afternoon, and the first day of school on Monday; I have to trust and pray that Enoch and Evy will have excellent teachers and will make new friends and we will find our new rhythm and places that we like. Enoch said tonight, “We need to find a good doughnut shop and a good comic store.” And we do. But we also need to be gentle with our selves, as we grieve past things and embrace the new. God is ever in the midst. As Birdee Pruitt says at the end of Hope Floats, “That’s what momma always says. She says that beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up. And it will, too…”
As we begin this school year, with all of it’s crazy hecticness, I give thanks to God for always being in the mix, guiding and leading us on this adventure, helping us to trust and lean into grace, God’s abundant grace. If you’re feeling anxious about anything, then I leave you with these verses to carry in your heart.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NRSV)
6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
1 Peter 5:7 (NRSV)
7 Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.
We all, at any season of life, need to worry less and pray more. Amen? Amen.