“To everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven.”
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I was overjoyed when my last church gave me a Kitchen Aid stand mixer as a retirement gift. I planned to start cooking once I had the time, and so after my last Sunday, the mixer was christened with flour. Cookies and cakes began to appear on the kitchen counter. And best of all was the homemade bread.
The first day I made bread, the taste was okay but the loaves didn’t look quite right. They did’t seem to rise enough. As I thought about it, I realized I may have been a little over anxious to get them made. The directions called for me to let the dough rise for an hour, punch it down, divide it in half and put it in loaf pans. Then I was to let it rise again until it was higher than the edge of the pan, about another hour, before baking. I think I was so excited about making bread that as soon as the dough got anywhere near the top of the loaf pan, I shoved it in the oven, not giving it the time it needed to rise the full amount. What came out tasted good, but wasn’t really as high or light as it could have been if I had waited the full time. I was too impatient.
Ecclesiastes reminds us that God has a sense of time as well. Sometimes we want to rush things along. We don’t allow God to accomplish things in God’s time; we want it done now. I remember a woman at one of the churches I served who told me how alone she felt after her husband died. Her friends were great for the first two months, but then they started to tell her to get on with life and stop moping over her husband’s death. They wanted her grieving to be over in their time. The reality is that it takes years to fully grieve the loss of a spouse.
Too often we want to leave behind the old and dive right in to the new without taking time for reflection and evaluation. We want to shed the old with its challenges and hurts, disappointments and concerns, leaving it behind like a hermit crab moving to a new shell. But our life experiences are not something we can shed like an old shell. What happens to us in our lives becomes a part of who we are. We need to acknowledge what we’ve experienced, process it, learn from it and discern how God is inviting us to move forward, incorporating our past experience into our approach to life in the future. Where there has been success, what can we do to build on it? Where there has been hurt, how can we become wounded healers? Where we have failed, what might we do differently in the future?
In the New International Version, Ecclesiastes 3:11a reads “God has made everything beautiful in its time.” If we are sensitive to God’s time, if we refrain from rushing things and give God the time to work as God desires, then we, too, will find that God can accomplish wonders that make life beautiful.
Prayer: Loving God, help me to live this day in your time, not mine. Let me wait patiently for your way to be made clear; let me live hopefully, knowing that in your time all things work together for the good of your people. Show me how to learn from every experience in my life, and to find your presence in the middle of every situation. For I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.