Turn, turn, turn

turn turn turn
Being born and raised in Alabama and a long-time resident of Florida, I’ve heard all the redneck and hurricane jokes. Some of the rest of y’all got some good some good local jokes, too, though. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • You know you’re a Californian if the fastest part of your commute is down your driveway.
  • Top sign you’re a New Yorker #4: You believe that being able to swear at people in their own language makes you multi-lingual.
  • Q: What do a divorce in Arkansas, a tornado in Kansas, and a hurricane in Texas have in common? A: Somebody’s fixin’ to lose them a trailer.

In the years I’ve lived in Florida, I’ve come to appreciate all of ours, especially the ones that have to do with the climate. Por ejemplo:

You’re a true Floridian if…

…you judge a good parking place, not based on distance from the store, but on its proximity to shade.
…you consider anything under 70 as “chilly” and anything under 95 as “just a little warm.”
…you’re on a first name basis with the Hurricane list. They aren’t Hurricane Charley, Hurricane Frances, etc., but Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne.
…you’ve worn shorts and used the A/C on Christmas.

I can especially attest to the last two. I actually washed my car wearing my swimsuit one New Year’s Day. (I was wearing the swimsuit, not the car…)

One of my favorites, though, is this description of the four seasons in Florida:

  • Almost summer
  • Summer
  • Not summer but still hot
  • February

Sums it up nicely, although the apparent lack of seasons in Florida would seem to contradict what Daniel said about God:

He changes times and seasons… Daniel 2:21 NIV

On the other hand, I suppose if you can call “February” a season, then “yes” to the inerrancy of scripture…

While under no circumstance do I miss winter winter, I do wish Florida had a little more variety, heat-wise. And #Igers from up north (“north” being Atlanta) who share their little iPhone screen shots in September showing 71° outside? They needa just stop.

Of course, the word “season” doesn’t just apply to the climate-based divisions of the year.

  • It can indicate the right time to do something: “It’s flip-flop season.”
  • It can mean to mature, ripen, or condition by exposure to certain conditions or treatment: “I’m a seasoned beach bum.”
  • It can refer to any period of time: “I wore a mullet for a season.”

Solomon’s Seasons

Solomon wrote about the seasons in that last sense as periods of time, which the Byrds turned into a groovy hit tune in the sixties:

To every thing [turn, turn, turn] there is a season [turn, turn, turn], and a time to every purpose under the heaven… Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV

(I added the additional lyrics by the Byrds. Like Solomon, they were wise.)

There is a season—a time—for everything (or every thing, according to King James’ interpreters), even the things we’re not sure we’re ready for.

A few Sundays ago, my pastor announced his resignation after 21 years. While he’s still a good 10 years away from traditional retirement age, he’s dealt with some near debilitating health problems that seem to have escalated in recent weeks and months. So when he titled that morning’s message, “Changing Seasons: Paul’s Farewell to the Church at Ephesus,” I don’t think anyone was too surprised at his announcement. (His text was from Acts 20:17-38.)

His message that morning was a beautiful exposition on seasons of change, and why it’s necessary. He said:

God doesn’t intend for us to get comfortable in one season, whether you as a church, or me as a pastor. If we had only one season, we would grow stagnant and would not have to make necessary changes that cause us to depend upon the Lord. We would get complacent without having to exercise faith in Jesus Christ for the things that are not clear in our life. We would tend to depend on what we can do and not have to depend on what He can do.*

Wise man, and one of the few who still faithfully preaches the truth. I’ll definitely miss him.

While I joked about Daniel 2:21 earlier, God IS the one who determines the changing of seasons, whether from spring to summer or from being full-time pastor of one of the largest churches in Central Florida to being a guy stepping out on faith into the mostly unknown.

Life’s Seasons

We all go through seasons—or will before this life is over. Some of life’s seasons are due to our own choices… Marriage, for example: before the honeymoon’s even over, you suddenly have to get used to wearing clean underwear every day and paying attention to the position of the toilet seat. Poor health as a result of obesity is another: a few too many deliveries from Papa John’s and next thing you know you’re “walking” the dog while riding your scooter.

Some of life’s seasons, however, happen whether we like it or not; seasons like old age, when you see a photo someone took of you and wonder who that old geezer is standing in front of you. Then you realize it’s you.

Death is the ultimate inevitable change of season. For the follower of Jesus, though, death is simply a passage from this life into an infinitely more desirable one, like instantly being transported from a traffic jam on the interstate in Florida in August at noon with no air conditioning, to a mountain lake in Oregon in October at dusk in a floating BarcaLounger with no mosquitos and unlimited milkshakes (or beer, for you non-Baptists).

God’s Seasons

But make no mistake—whether going from life to death or from happy-go-lucky bachelor to slave of the fairer sex, none of life’s seasons are outside the realm of God’s sovereignty. And if, as a Christian, you’re trying to determine your change of season without input from or in defiance of the one who actually “changes times and seasons,” as Fonzie from “Happy Days” said: “Woah;” or as Isaiah said 25 times to all kinds of people, including himself: “Woe.”

Biblical case in point…

King Saul—he was Israel’s first king, chosen by the Lord, anointed by the prophet Samuel. Saul had everything going for him: he was tall, dark, and handsome and, of course, he was king, which isn’t without its perks.

Prior to an upcoming battle with the Philistines (pre-Goliath, but still a nasty bunch), the Lord—through Samuel—told Saul to wait. All Saul had to do was wait—not years or months or even weeks. He told him to wait seven days. (With today’s instant messaging and microwave ovens and Amazon Prime, that seems like a long time, but 3000 years ago…not so much.)

Seven days. But Saul didn’t trust God’s timing. That could have been because:

The Philistines assembled to fight Israel, with three thousand chariots, six thousand charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore. 1 Samuel 13:5 NIV

Granted, that was probably a tad unnerving. But the Lord seemed to enjoy showing His might and power in the face of impossible odds such as those. But instead of trusting the Lord, Saul took matters into his own hands and, in the process, violated one of God’s laws. And then tried to worm his way out of it and justify it. (I don’t know anybody who’s ever done that.)

As you can imagine, the Lord was less than pleased. Saul could have had a long season as king of God’s chosen people; instead, when Samuel arrived and saw what Saul had done…

“You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure…” 1 Samuel 13:13,14 NIV

Poor Saul—still tall, still dark, still handsome; but not still God’s choice for king. Before you know it, David shows up with his harp and slingshot and the rest is Bible history.

Not that any of us risks losing a kingdom if we don’t trust God to be the scheduler of our times and seasons—at least not an earthly kingdom—but depending on wisdom that comes from somewhere besides the Holy Spirit can have less than desirable consequences. In addition to his gig writing lyrics for the Byrds, Solomon, David’s son, had a lot to say about that:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5 NIV

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. Proverbs 3:7 NIV

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. Proverbs 14:12 ESV

It’s pretty clear that it’s important that God is in every season-affecting decision we make that will have on impact on our relationship with Him.

The Lord probably doesn’t care all that much whether you go potty before the church service instead of after, but He does care that you’ve decided to quit going to church just because you don’t like the music or because the preacher keeps preaching on tithing. He also cares if you’ve gotten yourself entangled in a relationship that’s anything but Biblical. (Just to name a couple ill-begotten, self-chosen seasons. There are more.)

How do we keep ourselves out of hot water with God? Spend time in prayer seeking His will and be sure He’s the one driving the bus. (He doesn’t drive the bus with people on it having sex outside of a one man/one woman marriage, though. You know who does drive that bus? It isn’t God.)

While this all seems fairly generic, I personally have lots of folks in my small circle who are going through seasons of change that require much prayer and seeking God’s will:

  • A couple close friends who are part of ministries are feeling led to ask God for direction on next steps: Minor course correction? New website? More of the same? Chunk it all and start all over?
  • Friends and family members are dealing with the declining health—physical and mental—of a loved one, praying about long-term solutions for care that honor the person as well as the Lord, praying for strength to get through the day.
  • My prayer list has lengthened significantly due to praying for prodigal children—most likely because my peeps who are parents of those wayward ones know that I was one myself. You can’t ground an adult child until they come to their senses (unfortunately); sometimes, the season they’ve embarked on has to run its course. (Please, Lord—let some of the seasons I’m aware of run their course before it’s too late.) But, oh, the heartbreak until it does…
  • Your writer here wishes he could smack Kelly Minter and A. W. Tozer, who have both written books (Kelly’s and Tozer’s) that have uprooted me from my season of peace and tranquility—peaceful and tranquil, yes, but with little spiritual growth resulting in a relationship with the Lord that needed a blood transfusion—and launched me into a season of change. I know the end point and it’s good. Getting there, though…

While we humans are often bound and determined to figure it out on our own, it’s actually the ultimate blessing when God is the one who changes the “times and seasons.” His way is always good and perfect, even if we can’t immediately see the wisdom in His decision.

Paul said:

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Romans 11:33 NIV

Pretty much takes the weight of responsibility off our shoulders.

Let me wrap-up the season of this particular blog post by saying this: When we trust the Lord, the seasons He ordains for us can bring new and wonderful growth, kind of like Solomon described in his Song of Songs (Dude apparently wrote a LOT about the seasons…):

The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Song of Songs 2:11-13 NIV

Unless you’re in Florida; in which case it’s about to be hurricane season…

Turn, turn, turn…

• • •

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*“Changing Seasons: Paul’s Farewell to the Church at Ephesus” © 2017 Dr. Jay Dennis

4 thoughts on “Turn, turn, turn

  1. Thanks, Dusty. I’m in a very strange season – loving it, but missing all things comfortable and tranquil. God has me here for some amazing reason. Just pray I can discern His will.

    • I totally understand. I want whatever God asks of me to always be right in the center of my comfort zone, but He is pretty good about doing just the opposite! I will definitely pray with you. Miss seeing you…

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