By Clarissa Toll
If you have been around church for any amount of time, you’ve heard about seasons.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. -Ecclesiastes 3:1
A season for birth and death
A season for planting and reaping
A season for healing
A season for building
A season for tears and laughter
A season for dancing
A season for embracing
A season for tearing down and mending
A season to be silent and to speak
There is so much to glean from these seasons. So much goodness and importance are housed within these defining portions of our lives, but what happens when they aren’t as easily defined?
What happens when you don’t know exactly which season you’re in?
These are the in between(s), as I’ve recently started calling them.
Ya know those times when a big something is ending In a short amount of time but you’re not quite there yet or you see a change not far off but you’re in a period of uncertainty? A job change, a birth of a child, the start of empty-nesting, graduating high school or college, deciding on a move… the list goes on.
Right now, I am literally in the season (summer) between graduating college and starting my big adventure into a career and my future.
The in between(s) are really hard on me, at least that's what i'm learning in this season of what feels like nothing but endings and the waiting on beginnings. I'll finish school up this coming December, "real-adult" like life will start after that, along with which will come a bunch of other big heart things to size up and settle into before the looming deadline. Its weird and uncomfortable, to be honest. I've been warring with being content, holding on, and running full speed ahead for some time now.
It’s an odd place to be in, while I may feel finished, I’m not yet done and there are still hoops to jump through. I can feel the pull to jump off and start, yet I’m in between the end and the beginning of two major chapters of my life. I don’t know the career I’ll fall into at the end of December or where I’ll be this time next year, but I’m in a-not-so definable season nonetheless.
Sure I’m building, but I’m also waiting. I’m embracing the beginning of the new, but I’m also reaping what came from the planting that is four years in college.
But y’all want to know what I’ve learned by seeking and pondering about seasons? Each season isn’t defined by one word. A lot of them are marked by these words from Ecclesiastes, but there are in between(s) to each.
It’s never wrapped up with a nice one word, easily defined bow, but even the in between(s) are just as important and chalk full with things to glean.
I’m the type of person who likes to find boarders and parameters; I like to label things and scrutinize over there definitions. But the older I get, I’ve realized the undefinable are the things we learn from the most.
No season the Lord leads us through will be completely comprehended by our human abilities, so why do I (we) limit them to simple, short worldly definitions?
We catch such sweet glimpses of what He is teaching us as we walk through them, but some of these fruits we will never fully grasp this side of heaven (Ecclesiastes 8:17).
So we’re going to reap and build and tear and laugh and cry and speak and be silent in each season of our lives, possibly with one or two playing a larger role in each, but it’s all going to add up into a season.
In each, though, I pray we choose to glean and seek where the Lord is.
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord. -Psalm 27:13
Where do you feel in between? Where is it you aren’t sure how to define where you stand?
Lord, our time on this earth is a constant time of change and seasons. There is mess and stability, brokenness and joy; but in it all is where we find you. As a church, I pray we recognize the seasons and the in between(s) we’re in so we can seek you and know you better in our lives. This side of heaven is full of your brush strokes of mercy, lets us glean from them Lord.
Our youth summer conferences are a time for both students and adults to grow closer to one another and God. The students are able to hear from amazing speakers that challenge them on multiple levels. As adults, the other sponsors and I get to hear from a "campus pastor" whose responsibility is to look after the adult leaders exclusively.
This year, we were challenged by the campus pastor to ask four key questions of our students. These questions are an important part of their growth and development as Christ-followers but they are also questions that each one of us must ask to grow deeper. The amazing thing is to realize all of us have asked these questions at one time or another. They are not complex but can be very revealing when asked correctly.
The first question is, "Who is God?" Simple right? Who we believe God is has a great deal to do with our spiritual development. The primary source we have for knowing about God is His Word. God uses His Word to reveal Himself to us. If we are not willing to read God's Word, then we will not have an accurate picture of God. How many times have we all heard someone make a definitive statement regarding the nature of God that was obviously incorrect? The root of such things is almost always a lack of commitment to reading God's Word.
The second question is, "Because of who God is, what has he done?" This question not only drives us to God's Word, but we can also see what God has done and is doing in our individual lives. When we see God asking Adam and Eve in the garden, "Where are you?" It's not because God is unaware, it's because he wants us to know that He is seeking a relationship with us. Furthermore, He wants us to know where we are in our relationship with Him. In John 3:16 we read that God loves us so much that it moved Him to give His only begotten Son. Timothy Keller speaks of God as being "prodigal" in nature. That His love is lavish,even reckless, in regards to His desire for a relationship with us.
The third question is, "Because of who God is and what He has done, who am I?" The word Christian means "little Christ", thus as Christians we find our identity in Him. We see from who God is and how He has pursued us that we are wanted and loved. It is God who gives us our identity.
The final question is, "Because of who God is, what He has done, and who I am, how is it that I should live my life?" The previous three questions should bring about a result that manifests itself in our lives. The motivation of asking these questions is not about behavior modification. We may be able to change our actions without transforming our hearts but what God truly seeks is that we completely establish ourselves in him.
Here's the problem. It is easy, and even culturally fashionable, to reverse these questions. This is extremely dangerous. If we start by asking, "How am I living?" Then, "Because of how I'm living, what is my identity?" We will inevitably reach the conclusion that, "Because of my established identity, I must conclude that God intended me to be this way." This is how much of our society's view of God has skewed away from a Biblical view of God. We have created a God of our own making rather than making us a people of His creation.
Let us not be unaware, this twisted world view can easily make its way into the church and our individual minds. If we are not consciously aware of where we are suppose to start, this will be the result. We MUST start with God and never ourselves.
From upcoming events to random thoughts, each week this is the place to hear from a staff member or guest writer.