Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 (NLT) For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.2 A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.3 A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up.4 A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away.6 A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away.7 A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak.8 A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.9 What do people really get for all their hard work?10 I have seen the burden God has placed on us all.11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.
Once you get the song out of your head, think about what this passage really says. If there is a right season for an activity, that also means there is a wrong season for an activity.
The right action + The wrong season = A wrong result
Timing can be everything. I have often thought that as long as I am doing good things then I will get good results, but according this passage that is not necessarily the case. I could be doing exactly the right action, but if I mess up the timing I could end up in a drastically different place than God intended.
The implications for daily life and for whatever “burden” God has put on your heart are huge. Some of the burdens God has put on my heart include my family, my church, and my writing. When it comes to all of these things I must pay attention not only to what I should be doing, but also when I should be doing it. As Solomon says, I “cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” That means I don’t know what the right timing is, but God does. So I must constantly be asking His opinion about when to take certain steps so I can end up with the result He wants.
What burden has God put on your heart? Even if you know what to do, have you asked God when? If you want God’s intended result, make sure you follow His timing.
Last night we started a new teaching series on the book of Ecclesiastes. Since I have been spending a bit of time reading and studying this book, I came across this passage and I felt like it jumped out and bit me. I don’t know if you ever have that happen to you when you read scripture, but I sure hope you do.
Ecclesiastes 11:9, 12:1 (NIV) 9 You who are young, be happy while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment… 1 Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them”.
As a youth worker these verses provide guidance and clarity to what God needs us to do for these teenagers. Here are a couple thoughts that hit me:
1. It is normal for students to “follow they ways of their heart and whatever their eyes see.”
It is easy to get frustrated when I look at facebook posts, hear about weekend activities, or have to sort out the next teenage drama rumor fest. Sometimes the temptation is to bang my head against the wall and throw in the towel because they just keep making the same mistakes over and over again. Don’t they ever listen to the messages we teach?!?! As an adult it is easy to look down on them and their decisions, until I remember my teenage years…
2. Happiness and Joy need to be central to our ministry.
Because of the frustration I have to be careful to not smack them in the face with scripture, or always tear them down about how bad they are doing. There are certainly times when “Christian discipline” needs to be carried out, but not in every lesson. If they feel guilty every time they come to church they might not keep coming. I am not suggesting you water down scripture, but if you give a hard hitting message one week, follow it up with a feel good one the next week. Use games and humor and relationship building (even fun just for fun sake) to keep an overall feeling of happiness and joy while you teach the hard hitting truth.
3. My main role is to help them “remember their Creator” as they learn life lessons.
It is very important to keep a grasp on what my role is in their life. It is not my job to be their parent. It is not my job to save them from themselves. It is not my job to modify their behavior to please the church leadership. My job is to be one more person, among a team of adults in their life, to point them back to Christ every chance I get. I accomplish this by showing them what a life-long commitment to Christ looks like day in and day out. By loving the way Christ loved. By teaching them the truths of God’s word. And by letting God do what only God can do. I can’t save them. I can’t transform them. Only God can do that, and sometimes I have to do my part and then get out of the way.
As I start another calendar year as a youth worker, I have asked God some hard questions. It is easy to get discouraged or focused on the wrong things. God lead me to this passage and answered some of my questions, I hope it was as helpful to you too.
What do you see in this passage that I missed? How has God spoken to you through it?