Summary: God's timing is sovereign, sufficient, seasonal, and surprising. God turns extreme calamity into extreme possibility in the pendulum swing from Good Friday to Easter morning. Change comes as an unfolding pattern rather than a mindless swing of events.

January 20, 2013

“The Merry-Go-Round of Time”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-14

Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses.

2 He sets the time for birth and the time for death,

the time for planting and the time for pulling up,

3 the time for killing and the time for healing,

the time for tearing down and the time for building.

4 He sets the time for sorrow and the time for joy,

the time for mourning and the time for dancing,

5 the time for making love and the time for not making love,

the time for kissing and the time for not kissing.

6 He sets the time for finding and the time for losing,

the time for saving and the time for throwing away,

7 the time for tearing and the time for mending,

the time for silence and the time for talk.

8 He sets the time for love and the time for hate,

the time for war and the time for peace.

9 What do we gain from all our work? 10 I know the heavy burdens that God has laid on us. 11 He has set the right time for everything. He has given us a desire to know the future, but never gives us the satisfaction of fully understanding what he does. 12 So I realized that all we can do is be happy and do the best we can while we are still alive. 13 All of us should eat and drink and enjoy what we have worked for. It is God's gift. 14 I know that everything God does will last forever. You can't add anything to it or take anything away from it. And one thing God does is to make us stand in awe of him. (Good News Translation)

The timing of God is sovereign. That means He is in total control. If you’ll notice the first part of Ecclesiastes 3:1, the writer says, “There is a chosen time for everything.” Not most things. Not convenient things. Not happy things, only. Not negative things, alone. There is an appointed time in God’s timetable for everything.

Here’s another thing about God’s timing: it is sovereign, but also sufficient. - Ecclesiastes says, “There is a time for every activity under Heaven.” Everything!? God has a time for everything. He’s going to take care of you in everything. He’s going be with you in everything. Not 99% of things. In every season of life you can be assured that God will go with you, and bring you through. Yes, there are extreme moments where we experience ‘the peril of the pendulum’, where we go from laughter to tears, from grieving to dancing, from loosing to finding, from conflict to peace, from good fortune to being haunted by misfortune, etc., etc., etc.!

You and I are not alone when experiencing such vacillations in life. About 2000 years ago, the two most extreme events that ever happened - occurred for our Lord, and they were only separated by three days. On Friday, the Son of the living God, hung on a cross and gave His life for our sin. They put Him in a borrowed tomb; and it had to be the extremity of calamity. The One who loved us more than anyone else could was dead. However, three days later, there came to be - the other end of extreme possibilities, Jesus rose triumphant from the dead! It was a time for death, and a time for resurrection!

Now, if God is not immune from these pendulum swings, then why should we expect something different? Seasons come and go, change is a constant, the pendulum does not stand still - in nature and in human experience. No one is immune from what I call ‘the merry-go-round of time’.

Solomon saw this, and to him it was one of two things: a vexation he had to endure, or something beautiful that made life more than a mundane, boring, same old, –same old, existence. What Solomon does here, is enable us to see that perpetual change not as something unsettling, but as an unfolding pattern, scintillating and God given. Instead of a mindless swings of upsetting change, there is something better: a divinely appointed, dynamic purpose - that is beautiful when seen from an eternal perspective. Our problem is, we cannot stand back far enough, to view things as our Creator does – as a whole – from beginning to end. There is grand design at work, but often we only know a fraction of the moment.

One writer characterized the “seven seasons of life” this way:

Spills of Infancy – Everything goes to the floor - as you play the game of “I drop;

you pick up”.

Drills of childhood – Spelling drills, multiplication drills, bible drills - The lessons drilled into your head by your parents and teachers.

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