Worthless Things

This is the season of “Back to School.” But in many parts of the country we aren’t back to school in the traditional sense. Parents have had to become homeschool teachers without any semblance of teacher training. Many now have to try to balance their own careers with teaching their kids at home.

This is the season of “Back to Church.” But in many parts of the country we aren’t back to church in the traditional sense. Preachers have had to become televangelists without any semblance of technical training. We have had to try to balance our usual clergy duties with not being able to use our buildings or do in-person visitations.

This is the season of “Fall Bible Study Sign-Ups.” But in many parts of the country we aren’t back to Bible studies in the traditional sense. Teachers are trying to negotiate how to do video-based curriculum on ZOOM, in-person classes in masks, or some hybrid of both.

Nothing is quite seasonal in this “season.” And nothing is normal. How can we learn then?

The psalmist speaks a longing of heart today that truly resonates with the desire we feel to be in God’s word and God’s house, regardless of our current season of trouble.

Psalm 119 (Common English Bible)

33 Lord, teach me what your statutes are about,
    and I will guard every part of them.
34 Help me understand so I can guard your Instruction
    and keep it with all my heart.
35 Lead me on the trail of your commandments
    because that is what I want.
36 Turn my heart to your laws,
    not to greedy gain.

Oh, how we long to return to life in the traditional sense! We long to attend church on Sundays so that we can understand God’s instructions and feel the protection of living inside his will for our lives. We want to walk a trail that God lays out before us that leads directly to him. We need Bible studies, Sunday School classes, small groups, youth group, the chance to do mission work, the joy of fellowship time, the opportunity to eat donuts, to sing in the choir….we need all the ways we typically learn about God. But in this season, living in God’s way will take a lot more effort on our part.

We need to turn our eyes away from looking at worthless things like regret over things not being “normal.”

37 Turn my eyes away from looking at worthless things.
    Make me live by your way.
38 Confirm your promise to your servant—
    the promise that is for all those who honor you.

So what are you looking at? What has captured your attention and diverts you from seeking God? Is your nostalgic longing for the way things used to be preventing you from engaging in the way things are?

We’re tired. We’re frustrated. We want the normal things back. But until that happens, we must find a way in this season to return to God’s word and his presence. God’s rules are good. When we seek after learning he will help us live by his righteousness.

So find that Bible study and sign up! Make a concerted effort to attend worship this Sunday no matter how it is offered. Join a ZOOM small group. This is the season to reconnect regardless of ”how.” This is the season to reconnect even if it won’t be like it used to be. This is the season to just do it.

39 Remove the insults that I dread
    because your rules are good.
40 Look how I desire your precepts!
    Make me live by your righteousness
.

Sanctuary by Ann Marie Haywood

Season Confusion

Unseasonable warmth came to the Outer Banks last week, despite it being the middle of February. Our normal wintery temperatures have ceded to beautiful, sunshiny, 70-degree days. Don’t get me wrong, we love it…but it is confusing the heck out of our daffodils. This picture was posted by a friend, who warned that the cold would return that night and she hopes these beautiful blossoms will survive. She captioned it, “season confusion.”

My mind instantly went to the beautiful passage in Ecclesiastes that speaks of seasons:

Ecclesiastes 3

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

I wonder if we don’t also occasionally experience season confusion ourselves. We stay in a time of mourning when God is releasing us to dance. We embrace inappropriately without consideration of the other person’s comfort level. We continue to tear at something when it’s time to mend that relationship. We hate, when God is asking us to love, and we go to war over an ideology or personality rather than be the peace-makers God is calling us to be.

Are you in the wrong season? Tearing down something that God is telling you to build up? Staying stuck in your ways, rather than uproot your attitude and consider other perspectives? Still searching for the perfection of that unobtainable thing when God is telling you to let it go?

If you are feeling out of sorts with your life and out of place in the world, consider that you may be experiencing season confusion. Think, meditate, and pray. God will lead you to the season he has prepared for you. EVERYTHING has a season under the sun. Maybe it’s time for a change.

Daffodils in February by Jan Wilson