January 26

Seasons and Cycles

Ecclesiastes 3:1-3 To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted….

Genesis 8:21b-22 Then the LORD said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake…. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.”

All things on this earth come to an end. We know that there is a hard stop to everyone’s physical life, and most of us accept that. But within our lives are many seasons, all with their beginnings, and yes, their ends. We need to become comfortable with seasons and cycles.

There are agricultural seasons. There are lunar and solar cycles. We work with these seasons and cycles, and while we may note the passing away of a beloved season or cycle with some degree of regret, we quickly turn to the future as the cycles continue. We all love harvests, and most of us celebrate New Year’s. Beginnings and ends are built into our cultures, and we often make room to celebrate them.

We must learn to do that with other cycles. In God’s economy, some things will simply have a season (a beginning and an end) to them: A relationship. The particular dynamics of a relationship. Your formal education. A particular ministry expression you might be enjoying. A way of living. A group involvement.

No matter how wonderful the season, God always moves on. The Old Testament sacrificial system had glory, but “the ministry of righteousness exceed[ed] much more in glory” (II Corinthians 3:9). The life of King Solomon was so awe-inspiring that the Queen of Sheba found “there was no more spirit in her” (I Kings 10:5) when she experienced it. Yet God had a certain shelf life planned for that, too. As magnificent as the Temple worship and sacrifices were, they were ultimately just a foreshadowing of the real thing, the Real One, to come.

Anyone who has a garden knows the value of pruning. Sometimes God brings an unexpected end of a season to us, just as gardeners bring an imposed end of a growing season on plants they prune. Either way, bemoaning the end of a season is useless; we, and the plant, must continue to grow—which is the point of the pruning.

Within the last year, something has come to an end for you. In this coming year, something else will come to an end for you. Some of these were or will be sad losses. Yet they are all part of life, where things begin and things end. Praise the Lord, there is grace for both.

God has built seasons and cycles into His creation. As we walk closer and closer with our Lord, we will come to embrace the wisdom of those seasons. We’ll become more comfortable with the passing of old ones, and more excited about the birth of new ones.

Prayer: Lord, I recognize that You have built seasons and cycles in Your creation and into our lives. Help me to fully embrace each season and cycle You put me in. May I learn to enjoy what I can out of each, not clinging to the passing seasons, and joyfully anticipating the new ones.

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