Successfully Navigating the Seasons of Life (Part One of Three)

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Successfully Navigating the Seasons of Life (Part One of Three)

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There are times that bring the seasons of our lives to the forefront of our minds. As I write this, snow is falling and we are just days away from my younger daughter’s eighteenth birthday. Our baby will be officially an adult!

Just a few days after that will be the third anniversary of my mother’s death. The following week will be my fifty-second birthday.

Joy. Sorrow. Anxiety. Peace. Time seems to be going faster and faster. My daughter, in the spring of her life, will someday experience those predictable passages of life that I, and my mother before me, have experienced.

A time for everything

As wise King Solomon put it:

“There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to harvest” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 [1] To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: [2] A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
American King James Version×
, New Living Translation throughout).

Why did an eternal God create so many intricately woven temporal patterns to our universe? What are we, His creation, to learn from the cycles of life?

Exploring that question, and the highs and lows of the rhythm of life, is something I’ve been thinking a lot about. I have been blogging about the Seasons of Life. I am even considering writing a book about them, someday…

Why are the seasons of our lives important? I believe that God has a vast eternal plan. And I believe He has designed this space-time continuum, its sunrises and sunsets, its plantings and harvests, its births and deaths, to prepare us for something beyond this realm.

“God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 Ecclesiastes 3:11He has made every thing beautiful in his time: also he has set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God makes from the beginning to the end.
American King James Version×
).

Learning lessons at every stage

Okay, enough of the philosophy. What do the seasons of our lives mean on a practical level?

One fascinating passage by the apostle Paul examines the responsibilities of life based on our age—how “seasoned” we are! Paul was teaching Titus, a younger minister, how to help Christians at various stages of their lives.

“But as for you, promote the kind of living that reflects right teaching. Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have strong faith and be filled with love and patience” (Titus 2:1-2 Titus 2:1-2 [1] But speak you the things which become sound doctrine: [2] That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.
American King James Version×
).

Why start with Titus himself as the minister and the older men? In God’s book, they were expected to be the leaders and the examples to the others. They have had life experience to temper the lack of self-control and lack of wisdom we all had in our youth. Even as their physical strength begins to decrease, their faith, love, and patience should be getting stronger.

Paul continued with advice on encouraging the mature women. “Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that is appropriate for someone serving the Lord. They must not go around speaking evil of others and must not be heavy drinkers. Instead they should teach others what is good” (Titus 2:3 Titus 2:3The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becomes holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
American King James Version×
).

Again, the older women have a purpose for developing godly character—to prepare to teach others. Our experiences, tests and trials prepare us for the next stage, and at every stage, we can be fulfilling God’s purpose.

Paul continues to describe some of that training, with the students being the younger women. “These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to take care of their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God” (Titus 2:4-5 Titus 2:4-5 [4] That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, [5] To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
American King James Version×
).

In modern society, we train people to make a living, but somehow expect everyone to naturally figure out how to live and how to fulfill the new roles we move into. But we don’t naturally know how to be a wife or husband or how to be a parent. Training for these roles is vitally important, and God provides for this education through our own families and through those who are older than us in His Church.

Next Paul addresses the younger men and Titus himself: “In the same way, encourage the young men to live wisely in all they do. And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good deeds of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching” (Titus 2:6-7 Titus 2:6-7 [6] Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. [7] In all things showing yourself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing soundness, gravity, sincerity,
American King James Version×
).

The Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary says: “The requirement for the young men is brief but comprehensive: self-control… Since young men are inclined to be somewhat impetuous and unrestrained in conduct, their basic need is to be ‘self-controlled’ (GK 5404), cultivating balance and self-restraint in daily practice.”

More passages

Obviously, there is much more to the story of the seasons of our lives and what we are to learn through the predictable challenges of life. Some of you may be familiar with the best-selling book Passages, which was subtitled Predictable Crises of Adult Life. The author, Gail Sheehy, covered everything from leaving home to midlife crises.

Her book is fascinating, but I think other “passages”—the ones in the Bible—will give us even more help and inspiration. I plan to make this biblical study a part of the rest of my life.

Where will this study lead? I can’t wait to find out. But I have a hint that it will come full circle. We start out as little children, and God tells us that when we complete the cycle of seasons in this world, we can look forward to an awesome future.

“See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for he allows us to be called his children, and we really are! But the people who belong to this world don’t know God, so they don’t understand that we are his children. Yes, dear friends, we are already God’s children, and we can’t even imagine what we will be like when Christ returns. But we do know that when he comes we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is” (1 John 3:1-2 1 John 3:1-2 [1] Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not. [2] Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
American King James Version×
).

Further reading

What an incredible plan God has for His children! You can read more about it in the inspiring booklet What Is Your Destiny?