By Gary Khan
I grew up in a place that experienced two seasons: the dry season and the rainy season.
Then I moved to California, and I got to experience one season – the dry season. I have heard that many Americans experience four seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter. Must be nice. Yet, whether we experience two seasons or all four, seasons represent different times in our human existence, and they are integral to our life experience. Solomon, the wise king and philosopher, echoes that sentiment when he says that to everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). Some time ago as I was going through a somewhat dry season of my own, I heard Rev. Gary Emery, a former Open Bible Pacific Regional Superintendent, speak about seasons. His words led me to explore this idea of seasons further. The following observations are the results of that sermon and my subsequent further exploration.
SEASONS ARE PROVIDENTIAL
Seasons are created and directed by God. The prophet Daniel proclaimed, “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning” (Daniel 2:20-21, NIV). Similarly, Luke writes in Acts that God is the source of our life, breath, and everything we need. He is the One who determines where we reside, and it is through Him that we are able to live, to do what we do, and to be who we are (Acts 17:25-28).
God ordains the seasons we are in. He placed us in this world in these times and in this season. We may not be happy with God’s choice of timing, but none of it is by chance or error.
SEASONS ARE PURPOSEFUL
From before our birth to the moment of our death, God is accomplishing His divine purposes. Every event in our lives has a season, an appropriate time – not produced in some random order, but in a manner that’s charged with God’s purpose (even though we may not always understand His purpose). The prophet Isaiah declared that God shaped our life in our mother’s womb (Isaiah 44:24), and the prophet Jeremiah lets us in on God’s declaration to him that “even before He made him in his mother’s womb, He knew Jeremiah and chose him for a special work” (Jeremiah 1:5). Solomon informs us that if we cooperate with God’s purposes and timing life will not be meaningless. Everything, even the most difficult experiences of life, will be “beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
“And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God
and are fitting into his plans” (Romans 8:28, TLB).
Pause for a moment and ponder the four seasons that God has ordained. Even without much deep thought we can easily see some of their purposes. Spring is the time of beginnings, exciting opportunities, and anticipation for the future. Seeds planted during this season will take root and mature during summer’s labor, producing a harvest in the fall, when we get to reap the rewards of our efforts. Everything draws to a close in winter.
Often, we think of childhood and youth as springtime, while summer represents the emerging prime of life. Fall starts somewhere beyond middle age, and everything slows and fades to a finish in elderly wintertime.
Applying the seasons to our growth, our progress, or our advancement, we can recognize that each season is unique and adds important dimensions to life.
- Spring is about potential, promise, planning, and possibilities. It’s a time of opportunities and beginnings.
- Summer is a time of growth and maturation. The seeds we planted during spring mature into full-sized plants. Summer is a season of work, when we invest the time and effort required to become good at what we do.
- Autumn is the season of harvest. We see the production/reward of our labors. Our hard work begins to pay off.
- Winter is the season of winding down, withdrawal, retreat, and closure. Activities, responsibilities, and relationships draw to a close. This is the time of ending. It also represents a period of rest, restoration, and reflection.
God has a purpose for every season we go through.
SEASONS ARE PASSING
Seasons are not permanent, and until God stops the process, the cycle will repeat. The season in which you now find yourself will soon pass. Once winter passes, another spring is at the doorstep.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:18-19, NIV).
Seasons do not last forever; they are transient. They will pass and another season will be upon us. Understanding that our seasons are passing, providential, and purposeful is valuable; however, of greater value is what we do in those seasons. What should be our response to each?
“The night may be filled with tears, but in the morning we can sing for joy!” (Psalm 30:5, ERV).
Embrace your season.
Often our first response to a challenging season is to complain our way through, which inadvertently prolongs the season or at the very least makes it seem longer that it is. As a result, we waste a cycle and must wait to repeat the season.
The Israelites serve as a prime example of this. It took them forty years to grasp the necessary lessons of trust and obedience to God before they could enter the Promised Land. Instead of seizing the opportunity immediately, they had to endure repetitive seasons over four decades. Remember that seasons are part of God’s providential plan, unfolding in a specific time and sequence with a purpose. No matter the season we find ourselves in, it is vital to fully engage with it and embrace it.
All too often people want to skip a season. We want to jump straight from the idealistic stage of spring to the harvest season of autumn without investing the necessary effort and diligence we must put in during summer. However, this inclination often disrupts the entire process. The way we handle one season profoundly impacts how we experience the seasons that follow. What we sow in one season directly impacts the harvest we reap in another. Embracing each season in its proper sequence and faithfully fulfilling the tasks and responsibilities it entails is crucial for a fruitful and fulfilling journey.
“And let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t get discouraged and give up “ (Galatians 6:9, TLB).
On the other hand, clinging to a season too long can also have adverse effects. Imagine wearing summer clothes in the middle of winter simply because you are reluctant to let go of summer and embrace the reality of winter. Such a choice would be uncomfortable, unproductive, and often detrimental. We sometimes hold onto a particular season as a drowning person would desperately clutch a piece of flotsam, unwilling to release it and transition into a new phase. This clinging can hinder our growth and prevent us from fully embracing the opportunities that the next season holds.
So, we have season rushers and season graspers. Neither is good. The way to live the most fulfilling life possible is to recognize when it is time to let go, allowing ourselves to move forward and gracefully enter the new season that awaits us. We need to be “season sensitive” in how we live, but keep in mind that no season is perfect. Each has its unique problems.
Spring’s gentle showers can turn into torrential rains that seem to flood everything. Or the opposite happens. We are left expecting rain to come and it never does. Other times (like this year), it seems as if winter just keeps going through spring. We want to move to the next season, but the current season persists.
Summer can become scorching and dry, and we must toil in the beating sun. We want to run from the heat and look for shade and the air-conditioner. In the fall, early frost can damage the harvest.
Again, no season is perfect, and we have no control over them. But before you throw up your hands in despair, remember we do have control over our response to the season. The choices we make today have the potential to produce compounded results in the future. The hard work we put in during our summer determines the rewards of autumn and the comfort of winter. You cannot enjoy a bumper crop in autumn if you waste your summer taking siestas. So embrace your season. It is going to happen whether you like it or not.
Explore your season.
Learn and see what God is doing.
“Learn a lesson from a fig tree. When its branches sprout and start putting out leaves, you know that summer is near” (Matthew 24:32, CEV).
To get the most out of where you are, you must understand the characteristics of your season. When we recognize the season, we need to make necessary adjustments to get the most out of it. Enlist the help of others, especially those who may have gone through what you are now going through or those who are in a different season who can offer you encouragement. What we must not do is stay away from others because we are angry that they are in springtime while we are in the heat of summer.
Inquire of God:
- What lessons are you teaching me?
- What actions do I need to be taking?
- What is my plan moving forward?
Esteem your season.
Recognize God is in control.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, NIV).
Don’t forget, seasons are God ordained and purposeful. God is working all things for His good purposes. So, enjoy the season you are in. Do not despise it; do not run from it; do not have a bad attitude about it. Instead of being unhappy or even fearful about where we are, we should be praying:
Father, You have placed me here at this time. How do You want to use me? How can I be available to You so that You can work out Your purposes in this place? ”
Are you in spring? Times of beginnings can be invigorating, and spring offers brand new opportunities and possibilities. In springtime you may feel like you are invincible and don’t recognize your dependence on God. You may be excited about the possibilities, but take time to understand how those opportunities stack up against God’s purposes. The decisions you make in this season of promise will determine much for the other seasons.
Are you in summer? The seeds we planted during spring have matured into full-sized plants. Some of you are close to harvest. Do not give up now. You are hot and tired and nearing the edge of exhaustion and you want to jump ahead to fall, but to jump ahead would be short-circuiting what God is doing in you. Stay the course. Keep tilling, keep watering, keep tending the crop, and don’t give up.
Are you in fall? Your hard work is beginning to pay off. It is easy to get prideful in this season and think that your success is all your own doing. It is also easy to devalue other’s input. But how you handle this season of harvest sets you up for the next cycle of seasons.
Are you in winter? Maybe your activities, responsibilities, and relationships are winding down. This is the time of finishing well. It is a period of rest, restoration, and reflection.
Remember your calling.
“Preach the Word of God urgently at all times, whenever you get the chance, in season and out, when it is convenient and when it is not ” (2 Timothy 4:2, TLB).
In every season you are a witness to God’s power and sovereignty. Your response in your seasons of good and bad, blessings and challenging times preaches a message to the people around you. What is your response to the seasons of your life communicating to those around you about God?
About the Author
Gary Khan served as pastor of Desert Streams Church of the Open Bible in Santa Clarita, California, for 32 years. He currently serves as the Executive Director of Operations for Marketplace Chaplains in Southern California. He also serves as district director for the Southern California/Arizona/Hawaii district of Open Bible Churches. Gary is author of the devotionals Greater and Reset as well as his book, That Didn’t Go the Way I Thought: Navigating the Ups and Downs of Our Journey of Faith. Gary’s greatest achievement and joy is that of being husband to DeLaine for the past 32 years and father of three amazing kids (two biological and one “adopted”).