by: Tanji Reed Marshall
“Like sands through the hourglass, so are the Days of our Lives”…This statement is the familiar tag to one of our country’s most famous soup operas. It started the show….It ended the show…And was used on countless commercials. Advertisers anchored their message by using an hourglass and showed grains of sand dropping one by one from one side to the other. Millions, even if they never watched the show, knew the catchy phrase and the show for which it was used.
These words are very fitting as a backdrop for an exploration of the concept of seasons. Our lives are in fact, like sands through an hourglass. They drop grain by grain through the glass of time – marking off the seasons of our lives.
But what of this idea of seasons? Seasons are a familiar concept to the American fiber. Our lives are marked by the seasons in which we find ourselves. On the simplest of levels, time is calculated by four distinct time frames, namely winter, spring, summer, and fall. We bemoan the end of summer; which signals the beginning of the fall season. A season in when all that is alive begins to wither and die. This is the season that marks the end of carefree days and long languid nights; of days spent forgetting if even for a moment that a new time will approach. Fall is when days are shorter and nights are longer. During summer we pine for relief from the heat, but during the fall we yearn for the times that allowed us to let our hair down and pretend to relax.
Once we allow ourselves the space to welcome the changes that fall brings, we gladly gear up for a new mode of behaving and thinking. Fall signals football season, office pools, tailgate parties, and thoughts of which of alma maters will top the nation’s college polls. Just when we get accustomed to the “fall flow”, its time to switch up. The weather changes, signaling the onset of a new season. Christmas season with mistletoe, trees, decorations, shopping, lists, lists, and more lists. Lists for food, lists for presents, lists for holiday cards, and every other under the tree.
Christmas arrives, the lists have been forgotten, the bills arrive and then we begin a new season. The sale season. We rush into to beat the proverbial clock trying to get the sales we missed during the pre-Christmas sale season. Thus goes the story of our lives.
Those “sands” through the hourglass keep dropping, one by one. We move from one season to another; often without thought to the meaning or impact on our lives or those around us.
The seasons of our lives come and go. But what if we stopped to “smell the roses”? What would we notice? What would we discover? Would we gain a new perspective of the flow of time and events? Would the concept become any clearer to us to a degree that we can process its meaning and impact?
S-E-A-S-O-N The word conjures up thoughts of time crunched into a limited space. Time so packed with activity that we yearn for relief; yearn for an end. So much so we rarely take the time to enjoy the season in which we find ourselves. We look forward to a new time period, only to wish it away when it gets here. We love the summer, only to complain about the heat. The cooler weather arrives and we snarl about the wind and snow. We love the change in leaf colors during the fall, but detest the clean up. We are in a state of perpetual dissatisfaction about our seasons our “times”.
There is a lot said about the seasons. Experts are always on hand to give the latest news, trends, and happening ideas and hip activities to explore. However God is always the final answer on all His creations. The words of Ecclesiastes always come to mind when we think about the concept of time and season. “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” Looking carefully at season from Solomon’s inspired word sheds new light on its meaning and our possible interpretation and impact in our lives. Season, from this perspective, is a span or period of time; while time deals with length or duration, how long the season will last. It deals with an element of limitations specifically relating to inception, duration, and completion.
Season and time relate to a period of action or activity that begins at a specified time continues (time moves forward), and has a specified end. While this idea is intellectually easy to digest, it gets a bit sticky when the season is one of distress, anxiety, uncertainty, and pain. Seasons of happiness, ease, and comfort usually go unnoticed. Somehow we expect these. We are entitled to good times; we deserve them. While we are in our season of ease we continue oblivious and seemingly impervious to coming elements ahead. Signals that serve as indicators that a new season is afoot. A season, according to Solomon, is purposeful and necessary. Signals that make the words, “This, too, shall pass”, take on new meaning. Just as falling leaves are the markers for the coming fall, life has markers that indicate a seasonal change. Why, then do we miss or ignore them?
We button up our overcoats, break out the hats, gloves, and scarves when the first winter winds blow. However we are seemingly caught off guard when the winds of change begin to blow in our lives. The word tells us that change will come and is necessary.
What strategies can we use to master the coming, enduring changes of our lives? God tells us that in all of our getting we are to an understanding. There are myriad reasons that cause change. Change is inevitable. It happens whether we are prepared or not. Get an understanding, according to God’s word.
Understand that change is the most certain uncertainty on which we can count. Developing this understanding will make the winds less harsh. We will be less likely to be caught off guard when situations vary; especially when we prefer them to remain constant.
Understand that change is necessary. God tells us that He will not withhold any good thing from His children. Change, for all of us, is a good thing that sometimes must be forced on us. Our seasons must change or else we won’t grow. The natural seasons are part of God’s divine order to continue the cycle that has been put in place. There must be death in order for there to be life. This concept hold true for us as well. We must die to some behaviors, thoughts, relationships in order to be most productive and useful for God’s plan. Our dilemma occurs because we struggle to process the changes. We wrangle with God about why, how long, and His timing. The elements don’t argue with God, neither should we.
Understand that we still must trust God in the changed or changing cycle. God is El Roi, the God who sees. He sees the end first and then orchestrates the necessary elements of our lives to help prepare for what He knows is ahead. Often times we want to trust God but are skittish because we don’t see what God sees. Sometimes God only shows us what we need for the moment, simply because we cannot or do not need to know more. This can be disconcerting ad add to our anxiety. However the word of God is true and clear. We are to be anxious for nothing. Not one thing. We have access to God through Jesus Christ our Savior and can go to Him in prayer (communication) about all things; even the anxieties about what He is doing in our lives.
Understand that now (at this exact moment, immediately – as you read this) faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen. We the winds of change begin to blow; faith, anchored in the truth of God’s word that instructs us to clothe ourselves in His armor, can provide the security, certainty, and peace needed to accept the change and flourish within it.
Understand the fear inside is not yours. It is the trick of the enemy designed to get God’s children to focus on the change and its components as opposed to focusing on Jesus. Peter had this experience when Jesus helped him rise above the fray and walk on water. The minute he changed his focus he was gripped by overwhelming fear and began to drown in the elements around him. The spirit of fear is not the spirit that comes from God. God’s spirit is filled with love, power, and a sound mind.
Like the sands through the hourglass, so go the days of our lives. The change will come. It is necessary, purposeful and has a designated duration. Prepare for it, embrace, let it enhance your life to the glory of God, through Jesus Christ.