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Posts Tagged ‘Ecclesiastes 3:1’

‘We all have to go through change—that’s what life’s about,’ a friend told me this week. Her comment arose from dealing with someone who complained when things were done differently in a certain area of their church life. Yes, change can be hard—but it is inevitable. And right now, many people are experiencing it. For some, it is loss of a job while for others it’s the end of a period of study and the necessity of finding employment.

I reflected on my friend’s words later that same day, as I removed an old lavender bush from our front yard. It had well and truly had its day, yet I had been reluctant to pull it out for sentimental reasons. It was the first gift I received for speaking to a group outside our own church a very long time ago now. But with deliberation, I reached down and pulled that old thing out of the ground. It was time for a change.

I reflected further as I prepared for two speaking engagements this week. One is at a community group where I am speaking about my writing journey and the challenges and rewards of the writing life. I plan to talk about how I had always wanted to write and how a change in my job situation, not to mention that huge tug in my heart, caused me to take that step of beginning my first novel. My other talk will be given to a women’s group in a large church. There I’ll be speaking more overtly about God’s leading in my writing journey and about learning to trust, just as the apostle Peter had to when he walked on the water towards Jesus (Matt 14).

Both these talks have reminded me of the changes in my own life over the years and the widely different roles God has given me. I can remember leaving some jobs with reluctance to move onto the next. I remember not wanting to put aside my editing role that I took up after teaching. Here was a job where, as I told my boss one day, I could not believe I was being paid to do something I loved so much! Later, I remember leaving my office job at our church with mixed feelings, including excitement at my theological studies ahead. But above all, I remember the sadness with which I left my ministry role on our church staff, still sure God had wanted me there but equally certain God was saying it was time to move on. Now, after almost nine years of writing and seven books later, I am horrified at the thought that I might have missed out on such a wonderful privilege, had I insisted on staying where I was.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven’, the writer of Ecclesiastes tells us (Ecc 3:1). Times change—and we change too. I have seen how God taught me many things in one season of my life, then gave me a role where those skills and the experience gained were so much needed. And as we continue to listen and to trust, our God walks with us through each twist and turn of our lives, constant and faithful. ‘I the Lord do not change’ is the simple, unequivocal statement we find in Malachi 3:6—and I find that so reassuring.

Are you in the midst of a time of change? May you find your strength and comfort in our God who sees everything, who with faithfully lead you and who is the same, yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8).

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I wonder how you choose to spend your spare time. For many of us, it can be a bit of an unknown quantity—and that’s why I recently questioned the wisdom of spending a whole day at a retreat, focusing on what God is doing in my life. It is also the reason I almost thought twice before offering to care for our grandson for the day this past weekend because our daughter was unwell. After all, I had deadlines to meet and a book launch and other events to plan.

As it turned out, my day spent with God was invaluable—I am still reflecting on how it rescued me from becoming far too inward-looking and anxious about my writing to facing the future with much more thankfulness and joy. And as for my day with my ‘little man’—well, yet again he managed to wrap himself around my heart with those beautiful, big smiles of his. I watched him crawl for the first time and also saw how his face lit up when his father arrived home—precious, irreplaceable moments now etched in my memory.

It’s all a matter of perspective, isn’t it? What’s really important in our lives, when all is said and done, and what will turn out to be something that in the end isn’t doesn’t mean very much?

A short while ago, I was chatting with my sister. She and her husband currently have their son, daughter-in-law and three lively, young boys living with them while their own home undergoes a ‘makeover’. Already the family has been there for several months and will be for a while to come. Now my sister is doing lots more washing and cooking that she ever dreamed she would be in their retirement, yet she is happy to help out. She knows how significant this is for their little family—and I’m sure those three boys will long remember the months they spent living with Nanna and Grandpa and the special things they did together.

‘What’s a year in the big scheme of things, when all is said and done?’, we both agreed readily enough. You see, I have learnt this well in my writing journey, where it can take many months and even years to complete a book, only for significant parts to be thrown out during the editing stage—or worse still, for the entire manuscript to be rejected by a publisher. Yet, if we are doing exactly what God wants us to do in those days or weeks or months or years, isn’t that what matters?

I have come to the conclusion that our God, who is eternal, sees time just a little differently from me. And God also knows what things are worth pouring those days and weeks and months into—and what are not. So these days, I’m trying to listen more and recalibrate my life according to God’s agenda rather than my own—our God who declares, ‘There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven … (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

So how is your recalibrating going? It’s a lifelong learning project, isn’t it? But let’s not give up trying to ‘number our days aright’ as Psalm 90:12 puts it. One day we will see as God sees.

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

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