Ecclesiastes 3:1–4: For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…
When I survey the past two years, I see these verses from Ecclesiastes 3 being fleshed out in my life. Talk about seasons and changes, I have experienced many over the span of 24 months. In March of 2017 my pastor husband accepted the call to a new church—which meant leaving the church we had served at for over 12 years. Ministry had been sweet and we were leaving precious people who had become very dear to us. This move also meant leaving family 500 miles behind to serve in our new church (Texas is a BIG state!). Ecclesiastes 3:6 says, “there is a time to keep and a time to cast away,” and we literally saw that become real as we packed up our home of 12 years where we had raised our sons from being little guys to young men. Starting somewhere new came with the usual challenges of finding a new home, getting our youngest child settled in a new high school, and getting to know a new congregation. God is so faithful and at every turn we clearly saw his hand at work in our lives.
We had lived in Waskom just under a year when more life-changing events occurred. On April 1, 2018, my stepmom, Judie Paris, passed away and went to be with Jesus. Just the day before, my family had all come in to help me celebrate my 50th birthday. Three months later my dad, Tex Paris, had a stroke and died on July 5th. He was a man who loved God and his Word, and he believed that he had “a time to be born and a time to die.” As a family we have experienced “a time for weeping, and mourning, and laughing, and dancing (well we don’t really dance much but you know what I mean!) over the past year.
My middle son graduated from Texas A&M two weeks ago, and this past week my youngest competed in the state tennis tournament. My oldest son is about to embark on a new adventure in a few weeks as he starts barber school.
As Ecclesiastes points out, life rolls on, even when there are empty seats. When I am tempted to think that those loved ones who have gone on to be with Jesus are missing out, the Lord sweetly reminds me that they are missing NOTHING because they are with him.
God’s goodness has been so evident on this part of our journey. Our new church family has been just that—family to us, and they have lived, supported, and encouraged us through this season of loss and change. What I have found that has been profoundly comforting is that while God lets us know change is inevitable and, “there is a season for every thing and a time for every matter under heaven,” he is faithful. Hebrews 13:8 reassures my heart, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever,” so I can rest in his promises and share that good news with those around me. How about you? Are you in the midst of a major life change and need some love, comfort, and encouragement? Or has the Lord brought you through so that you can, as 2 Corinthians 1 instructs us, comfort others with the comfort you have received from the Lord?
Ecclesiastes 3 is a stark reminder that time marches on—no season lasts forever, and when we trust that “there is a time for every matter under heaven” we can believe that God has a plan and purpose for whatever season we are in currently.