What is good in one season is not necessarily good in the next. There are times we chase after things we think are good for us but they end up blowing up in our faces. Last week I wrote on dealing with disappointment but this week I am taking a look at some ways we can possibly avoid some of that. Knowing what season we are in will not altogether keep us from disappointment, but it may shorten certain seasons and help us respond to the invitation of God.
King Solomon, known as the wisest man who lived, tells us there is a season for everything. When we lean into a season instead of fighting it, we can find health. God has always walked with his people through seasons. God led the Israelites through seasons of remembrance, celebration, mourning, fasting and many other things. He had so much to teach them through the many seasons. The church, likewise, has a calendar for this purpose, to corporately lead through that which God wants to teach us and reveal to us.
On a personal level, God deals with us in seasons as well. Not everything we do will fall under the particular season we are in, but it will give us some parameters of what to engage in and how to use our time. A practice I have brought into my life is asking God, “What season do you have me in? What do you want to teach me in this season? Is there a passage or theme that you want me to focus on and learn at this time?” This not only gives me focus, but confidence in saying yes or no to things as they fit in the season God has me in. From time to time I will ask God if the season has changed and if there is something new. There have been times when I have missed asking these questions and have endured things for much longer than was necessary. It was not out of punishment, but because God knew that moving forward without encountering him in that season would bring harm to me.
A few years ago, when I was living in Ontario, I was working with some great people and a wonderful organization. When I was invited, however, into something more permanent, I was hit with some anxiety. After some discernment I found the source of this anxiety was a disbelief in the goodness of God. It was not that I didn’t believe what the scriptures say about God being good and what he does is good. I knew God said in Genesis 1:31 “It is good” about his creation. I could recite the Psalms, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1) and “no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless” (Psalm 84:11). But I did not have faith it was always true as He dealt with me.
I was in the midst of making a decision on taking a long-term position, and all of a sudden all these doubts and insecurities started to flood in: What if I get trapped in a role that doesn’t fit my gifts or that I don’t enjoy? I don’t know if God has actually created me with good gifts. Is what I am doing actually having an eternal impact? Would God really want to provide in the desires I have?”
The more these questions came up, and the more nervous I was about sticking around, I began to realize the issue wasn’t with the situation or the role, but my trusting in the goodness of God. So I moved out West to begin a journey of discovering that God is good.
Right away there was an invitation to discover God in discipline and perseverance. These are two concepts most of us fight against, especially in our early years of life, as if they are contrary to what is good and best for us. It was an intriguing place for God to initiate this journey. I soon realized I had established a false correlation between goodness and things being easy. A quick read on the heroes of the faith (whether it be from scripture or biographies) will help us discover how difficult life can be when we walk in step with a good God. Just look at the life of Joseph and his time in prison, or David in exile, or Paul (how many times was he left for dead!). Those lives are not easy or smooth sailing (pun intended for Paul).
An early tangible example of this came from my desire to own a car. This would be my first ever personally owned vehicle. This journey of knowing God’s goodness has been wholistic, not just spiritual and theoretical. I had a strong desire to own a car and it was a practical need. So, I prayerfully ventured into this process of finding a used vehicle I liked to drive across Canada from Ontario to British Columbia.
After inspection, I purchased one I liked, packed the car with my belongings, and started driving. I made it 75 km and the head gasket blew! Instantly some thoughts crossed my mind. How could this happen? Should I just turn around and stay here? Within seconds, however, I was reminded of the invitation in this season to persevere and discover the goodness of God in the midst of hardships. A few days later, a newer engine was put in and I was off again praising God and thanking him for how good and present he was through the process.
The season wasn’t over and he provided mentors and spiritual direction as I discovered a new reality that not only is God so good, but he gives us new desires. I went into a new season of learning how to surrender desires to God and boldly pursuing those desires he sustains.
“16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.”
This is how I ended up back in Halifax. Near the end of this season, I was inviting the Holy Spirit to produce desires within me and a desire to be in Halifax arose, a desire to see the Kingdom of God established in this city. To be honest, I was shocked by this. Since I was a kid I wanted to be gone, but I knew from this season how important it was to be obedient to the desires God was placing within me.
I am so thankful for how God has taught me in seasons. As I look back, sometimes I failed to recognize immediately what God was trying to teach me, but he was so patient with me. Some seasons I wanted out of quickly, but now I thank God for what he revealed and how intimacy with God grew as a result.
For me, knowing God’s invitation usually starts with knowing the season. The story I wrote about was pretty clearly outlined. That is not always the case. In most changing seasons, I am not picking up my life and moving across the country. In fact, God has led me through many seasons since returning to Halifax. Some have been short and others long, but for each one I am thankful.
The question I leave with you is what season does God have you in?