“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
The verse of the Bible quoted above, arguably one of the most quoted verses or portions of the Bible, reveals a timeless piece of wisdom that speaks to our daily lives more than we care to admit. Now especially, in the middle of a worldwide pandemic that is transforming the way we live, work, think, behave and congregate, I find it most crucial to reflect on the importance of understanding the times as we wade and waddle through the murky waters of our new realities.
Three words are of special interest to me in the verse quoted above: ‘season’, ‘time’, and ‘purpose’. Let me take a stab at each. “Purpose”, as used in this verse of the Bible is an activity someone desires to engage in or a goal one intends to achieve. Generally, it is something that brings you delight or pleasure, whether it be saving lives, making money, writing a book, getting married, raising a family, or even hanging out with friends. It covers everything from the mundane to the spiritual, as long as they are activities “under heaven”.
“Time” here refers to the specific point in the chronology of events when something happens while “Season” refers to a period an event is expected or designated to happen. While time is tied to a universal measurement of months, day and hours, season is tied to a specific event or occurrence. For example, the time may be 2pm on the 15th of June, but the season is the Rainy Season. It is the period we expect lots of rain. Although this portion of the Bible was written in Hebrew, the words for ‘time’ and ‘season’ are similar to the Greek words ‘chronos’ and ‘kairos’ respectively.
What this means is that every desire, plan or purpose we have is for a specific period in our lives. Jesus came to save the world, but he could only do so at a certain point in his life. Prior to the emergence of that “season” and “time”, he had to undertake other “purposes”, which were instrumental in getting him ready for the ultimate purpose – dying for the sins of the world. Our lives are full of plans, purposes and pursuits, but we must understand the right time for each one, after we have settled the question of whether they are divinely inspired or just humanly motivated.
A quick word on divine inspiration: every human’s heart is full of ideas and plans, but we must ask God to examine our plans and prune them accordingly. Otherwise, we run the risk of spending our lifetimes pursuing things that are not within God’s plans for our lives. When we fill our minds with God’s Holy Word every day, it inspires the right thought patterns and stimulates our minds to plan according to God’s purpose for us. If we do not settle this issue, we may apply a universal piece of divine wisdom to the wrong agenda in our lives.
Understanding the times requires at least three behaviours. One: a prayerful attitude in making decisions in life. If we are not “prayer-full”, we cannot discern the right time for each “purpose” in life. Two: reading extensively, especially in relation to the “purpose” you intend to accomplish. When you read, you gather information that helps you make sound judgments. Three: spending time in meditation periodically. Things are never what they seem, and only those who step back to reflect can see trends, patterns, opportunities, or dangers and then react appropriately.
In closing, you need to step back and ask yourself what “purposes” you are pursuing, whether they are divinely approved, and what the right time is to pursue them. Apply your heart to seek what is right before God, and he will show you the truth. Thank you for reading and remain blessed!