12 August, 2010

To Everything There Is A Season

A  couple of days ago I was reading an internet messaging board where several people were ripping on pastors/ministers for using phrases such as "going to the next level" or "a new season is beginning." I am convinced that some people find a perverse sense of pleasure in criticizing those in the ministry and would not be happy if they had nothing to criticize.  Anyway, comments were made that mocked these ministers with questions like, "how many levels are there?" or "Aren't there only four seasons?" I finally responded with a comment about their critical spirit, and then added a comment saying that as long as we are alive and serving Christ, then it should be our goal to grow, to reach higher and attain "new levels" in our walk with the Lord. We should be like Paul who recognized that he had not attained or arrived, but was still growing. Then I said, that while there are certainly only 4 seasons, those seasons are in a cycle of repetition... they keep going on, so long as we are alive. We don't go through winter one time and never face it again. As it is in life, so it is in the spiritual journey we are on. I'm thankful for that. I've failed in this journey with Christ in some seasons I've walked through, but I don't get just one shot at it, I get to walk through it again and again, hopefully learning, improving and growing as I walk through it out with the Lord... and as I do, reaching upward and going to a new level in my relationship. Those folks can make fun of my co-laborers all they want, but I choose to see the value in acknowledging that there is another season and a new level for me to attain. Looking back over the past 29 years of serving Christ, I can say that I'm far from having "arrived" but I sure am not where I once was. Those things that once caused me to stumble or even had me chained in bondage are far removed from me and but a distant memory. I am so glad I can see the progress I've made in this journey and how following the Lord and his Word have shaped my life.  It's funny, they act like this is a new thing, a new phrase used by certain preachers, but I was sitting this morning and thinking about an old hymn that I remember singing in church when I was just a kid. Some of the words to that song are:

I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I’m onward bound,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”

Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
By faith, on Heaven’s tableland,
A higher plane than I have found;
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where those abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.

Yeah, I'm convinced that life is a series of seasons. I love the Byrds song, "Turn, Turn, Turn" which uses the words from Ecclesiastes 3 "To everything there is a season."  I love what this song represents. There is such wisdom in that passage of scripture. What you are walking through right now... it will come to an end, a new season is just around the corner. Hang on. There are seasons we love, some we don't love; but all serve a purpose. In the natural, my favorite season is Fall, and my second favorite is Spring. Yet when autumn comes, I know the dark cold days of Winter are coming soon. And in the Spring, I know that the long, hot and humid days of Summer are just around the corner. But if I want to enjoy the brisk and colorful days of Fall, I have to persevere through the dry, hot Summer. Those colors would not be possible without what Summer produces. It all works together.  In both the natural as well as the spiritual realm, some people choose to gripe and grumble their way through life, complaining at every turn. We need to learn that "to everything, there is a season."  Like I said, I have not arrived... but I'm growing. I'm learning that without the heat of summer, the colors I so enjoy each fall would cease to be. So I'm learning to thank God for the heat. Same in the spirit realm. It's tough sometimes. There are times I have to remind myself that this is only a season that I am walking through, and that at some point it will end and a more enjoyable season will come. For now, I will endure, thanking God all the while, knowing that what I am walking through, while I cannot see it, is working to produce the beauty that is yet to come. Sometimes that is difficult to do, and I know that a lot of people can't (or won't) be thankful in those seasons. That used to be my story too, but I'm thankful that I do have 29 years of this journey under my belt, and I am walking on a different level than what I used to be. 

Yes, there are new levels, new heights in our life. I pressing on. Mock if you want... but I'm not satisfied with where I am, I'm reaching higher, going further with the Lord, thankful for every season I am privileged to walk through.
Lately, I've been taking the scripture to heart that states "Not everyone that says to me 'Lord! Lord' will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, but only those that do the will of my Father in Heaven". I'm really trying to remember to ask God to help me to help others in some small way every day. Today I will have another chance. I pray I don't blow it.  I'm sure that if we counted it all up, I have recieved  far more than I've ever given, but I keep trying. 
Maybe some people don't see it the way I do... and that's OK. Someday this life will end and  I will have to give an account, and I hope that I will hear "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."  Until then, I'll keep walking it out, season by season, level by level, seeking to grow as I go.

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