If you’re like me, you really enjoy a good meme. You know, one of those pictures that pokes fun at something, usually with a sarcastic message. I saw one recently making fun of seasons in Florida. The first contained four pictures of the same dirt road lined with pine trees. Each of the pictures was apparently taken in a different season, but they all looked almost exactly the same. The other meme listed our seasons as being, Pollen, Lovebug, Summer, and Hurricane, seems about right.
I love living in Florida, but if I’m being honest there’s something about watching the changing seasons I feel I miss out on. I’m not a huge fan of cold weather, but there’s an excitement that comes when I hear a cold front is finally coming through. I don’t think it has much to do with the cold itself, but more about the change. I get to wear different clothes, I get to feel a different sensation on my face when the breeze blows, I don’t have to be so concerned about remembering to put deodorant on (just kidding about that one), but the list goes on and on.
Seasons are a part of how God created our world, and they don’t just apply to weather, they actually apply to all of life. A whole section of scripture talks specifically about seasons and times. It’s in Chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes.
“For everything there’s a season,
and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones,
and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace;” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ESV)
Now, there’s a lot that we can glean from that scripture, but there is one thing in particular I’d like to point out, one question I’d like to ask.
First, simply put, many of the things on that list make me uncomfortable. Die, kill, weep, mourn, tear, be silent, etc. Those things don’t seem good to me, but I’ve been following Jesus long enough to know that what seems one way to me doesn’t necessarily mean it is that way. God determines what’s right and good, not me. He never promises comfort.
So, assuming there really is a time for each of these things, how do I know when it’s time for the season to change? Rather than trying to keep the times the way I’d like them to be, how can I let go of my own desires and enter into uncomfortable times so that I can experience Jesus in a new, fresh, and unfamiliar way?
I have no doubt God is leading our church into a new season. I believe it’s going to be a season of life, joy, and Spirit-filled revival. But we aren’t there yet, and I don’t want us to miss the season we are in right now. Let’s not be so proud of the past season or so excited about the next season that we miss out on what God has for us during this season, even if it’s uncomfortable.
I believe right now we are in a season of slowing down, a season of shedding distractions, and a season of watching and listening. I believe we are in a season where we need to stop putting our focus on the doing and instead put our attention on being: being in the presence of Jesus.
As a member of the Pastor Search Committee, I can tell you we have come to terms with the season in which God has us. We have worked so hard for so long to get into the new season. We’ve spent hours and hours interviewing pastors, praying together, and discussing who God might have for us. We have been doing a lot, but still, we wait. God’s timing and our timing are not the same. We’ve embraced the reality that we have no control. In fact, we have come to the conclusion that this is a season of waiting, and contrary to where culture wants to push us, waiting is good. God is in the waiting.
My daughter Molly and I are starting a garden. We’ve done our research and found that a lot of gardening involves waiting. We prepare the soil and wait. We plant the seeds and wait. We water the ground and wait. The good news is much is happening during the waiting, we just can’t see it.
The same is true of waiting as a church. If we are in a season of waiting, what does that mean for us? Scripture has a lot to say about seasons of waiting, listening, and being in Jesus’ presence.
In 1 Kings 19, we read about the Lord passing by Elijah. The Lord was not in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire. After all of that happened, Elijah continued to wait and he heard a low whisper. Elijah was waiting and listening.
In Luke 9 when the twelve apostles return from being sent out, they sit with Jesus and tell Him all they’ve done, and it says He “took them and withdrew to a town called Bethsaida.” Jesus took them somewhere different to be together.
In John 10, Jesus tells us that He is the Good Shepherd. He says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”
Finally, in the story of Martha and Mary in Luke 10, Jesus answers Martha’s demand that He make Mary get to work. Jesus is pretty direct when he tells Martha He will not make Mary get up and start working because sitting at His feet, listening to Him is of greater value.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that if we are not doing a bunch of important things, we are off course and wasting our time, but Jesus reminds us that He is the Vine and we are the branches. To that, He adds, “Apart from me, you can do nothing.” If we are going to be branches that bear fruit, that’s going to be dependent upon us being connected to the Vine.
So, where are we going as a church right now? I hope in this season we are going deeper. I hope we can get really good at waiting because personally, I want to hear Jesus’ voice. I want to be known by Him and I want to follow Him. I hope that by living those things out, I will be in a healthier spiritual place. Could it be that in this season Jesus is inviting you to do the same thing so that we can collectively be a healthier spiritual body of believers when God decides to send us our new lead pastor?