Have you ever considered the various seasons we go through at different times in our lives? I believe that many people never stop to think about the fact that the Lord takes us through a variety of changes and numbers of experiences so that He might teach us more about His faithfulness and the uniqueness of His calling in our lives.
With all that we would like to do, and all the needs that we would like to meet, we can easily be frustrated if we do not realize that the Lord does not call all of us to do everything all the time!
Our calling to ministry in the body of Christ is influenced by many factors, each of which can alter the nature of our service at different times over the years. No one should expect the young Christian to lead the way in teaching or in leadership within the body because they need time to grow and mature. Chronological age can also determine the nature of one’s ministry because of the factors which either limit or expand our effectiveness due to the circumstances each age brings. Recently one of our older adults lamented that he missed the days when he could crawl around with the pre-school crowd on Sunday mornings–a delight best left to the limber!
Young married couples without children will be available for different kinds of service than couples with a house full of preschoolers. Single adults have different levels of availability that depend upon the range of factors that press in upon them. Older couples with their family rearing years behind them will likewise be better suited for ministries which would not necessarily fit college students. The seasons of our lives prepare us, restrict us, extend us, stretch us and in many other ways mold us for what the Lord has in mind at any given point in time.
The faulty notion that one is always called to one kind of ministry, one dimension of service, has produced a tremendous amount of guilt in believers who want to please Christ with hearts open to service. But they fail to take into account that the Lord may be leading them out of one ministry into another because they are moving from one season of life into another.
I have seen many young mothers fretting away about the sense of urgency they have to plug into some area of service which is rendered impossible by their circumstances. I have watched as eager servants of Christ launched new jobs and careers, only to find that much of their discretionary time has been severely curtailed and the options for ministry proportionately limited for a while. Somehow we have made the natural process of growth and development in God’s plan for our lives impose unwarranted guilt on those who truly long to serve Him most.
In the seasons of our lives, we must learn to enjoy the flexibility and freedom the Lord has built into His purposes for our lives. The sweet diversity of new and challenging adventures of faith are made more precious when we recognize them for what they are. When the days in which we find ourselves make it necessary to shift gears, we need to learn to listen to the Lord and see whether He wants us to slow down or speed up. He never engages us in meaningless activity. There is never a time when we are “put out to pasture, stuck up on the shelf” or in any other way removed from His eternal scheme to reproduce in us the character of Jesus Christ.
Just as there are numbers of useful and diverse tools in the cabinet-makers shop, so the Lord has chosen to use different experiences and circumstances in our lives to shape our character and mold us into the image of Christ. The most obvious seasons for making us over as His new creatures are times of clear duty and productive ministry. But He also uses such tools as patience and times for stillness, wounds and times for recuperation, simplicity and times for getting back to basics.
The seasons of life are for our refreshment and for the Lord to teach us that He does not need us, but that in every way we need Him!
Solomon said this very succinctly in Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11:
There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven…He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning to the end.
We may not always understand what He is doing, we may not immediately notice that the seasons have changed, but in all things we may be certain that the Lord is at work in us and through us to display both His mercies and glory.
Is the Lord taking you through some changes right now? He is in my life. I know that some exciting new avenues for ministry are just around the corner for us here at Providence. As the church grows, we also go through the changing of the seasons and He wants us to listen for His voice as He calls us from one to the next. As always with the Lord, each new day is better and brighter, His glory more evident, His name more dear to us because we see that He “causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
As spring time looks ahead to the summer, look and see the hand of the Lord at work in nature and be reminded that He is also at work in you to use the seasons of your life to glorify His name!