I Hope You Dance

“Now is the time; now is the best time. Now is the best time of your life!”

Fans of Walt Disney will recognize the theme music to the wonderful attraction called “The Carousel of Progress.” This iconic moving-theater experience was originally built for the 1964 World’s Fair, and then disassembled and reconstructed in Tomorrowland in 1975. The cheerful message of progress through the century is a reminder that the best time we are living in is right now.

Do you believe that you are in the best time of your life? I imagine for many of us the answer is no. If you are dealing with addiction, undergoing chemotherapy, incarcerated, going through a rough divorce, dealing with rebellious children, caring for elderly parents, etc., you may not consider this the “best time of your life.” And that’s not even adding a global pandemic to the mix. This could hardly be considered our best time…and that’s OK.

The writer of Ecclesiastes has an important reminder for us about the nature of time:

Ecclesiastes 3 New International Version (NIV)

A Time for Everything

3 There is a time for everything,

    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,

    a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3 a time to kill and a time to heal,

    a time to tear down and a time to build,

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,

    a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

6 a time to search and a time to give up,

    a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend,

    a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8 a time to love and a time to hate,

    a time for war and a time for peace.

There is something comforting in realizing that there is a season for EVERYTHING under the sun. Everything has a place, everything follows an order, and everything has an appropriate and proper point on the space-time continuum. Even the things we dread have their own place. Death, war, mourning, plagues, and hate all have an allotted measure in the grand scope of our lives.

The best part is that it’s an allotted measure, i.e. something that happens for a specified period of time. This scripture teaches us that time is God-ordained and controlled and we should just relax and let life flow accordingly.

Does that work for you? Yeah, me neither.

When this doesn’t work for me is when MY timing doesn’t jive with God’s timing. Either I am being too slow to respond to his bidding, or (more likely the case) rushing into things with great enthusiasm without waiting for his direction.

Godly direction is the key to this whole thing. When we pray, discern, and yield ourselves COMPLETELY to God’s timing, he ushers us into the best time of our lives. Setting aside our preconceived notion of when something should begin or end allows God to act as Timekeeper, and sets life into motion according to his plan.

Is it time to do something? Is it time to change? Time to move? Has the time come to speak up, or be quiet and let others sort things out? Is it time to end something? Maybe you are entering a season of growing, re-inventing yourself, and leaving all kinds of heavy things behind.

This beautiful passage assures us that there is indeed a time for everything, and God is in each moment.

“A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”

I hope you dance.

Dancing Sunlight by Kathy Schumacher

Turn, Turn, Turn

Sometimes I get a song stuck in my head and it lives there for days. Every time I read Ecclesiastes 3, I hear a folk rock song that was released in 1965 by a band called the Byrds. It was called Turn, Turn, Turn and I bet many people were surprised to learn that it comes directly from scripture.

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven.

Now you can have this song stuck in your head, too!

The timeless wisdom of this passage is meaningful in every circumstance of life. Births, deaths, graduations, weddings, wars, and occasional pandemics are all seasons we can experience in a lifetime. The writer reminds us that with every season, God has a purpose:

Ecclesiastes 3 (Common English Bible)

There’s a season for everything
    and a time for every matter under the heavens:
    a time for giving birth and a time for dying,
    a time for planting and a time for uprooting what was planted,
    a time for killing and a time for healing,
    a time for tearing down and a time for building up,
    a time for crying and a time for laughing,
    a time for mourning and a time for dancing,

This is incredibly helpful to remember when you are in a season of sorrow. A friend who recently lost her mother describes it as “sorrow sitting with joy.” If you have experienced the death of a loved one, you know the terrible disorientation that falls over you. When my mother-in-law died, I remember thinking that it was just stupid that she was not in the world with us anymore. It made no sense. It was a big mistake and we just needed it to be fixed. But in time, mourning faded as dancing with happy memories took over. Eventually our season of crying turned into a season of joy when we welcomed her first great-grandchild into our family. A daughter became a mother, a mother became a Nana, a sister became an aunt, and suddenly God restored balance.

    a time for throwing stones and a time for gathering stones,
    a time for embracing and a time for avoiding embraces,
    a time for searching and a time for losing,
    a time for keeping and a time for throwing away,
    a time for tearing and a time for repairing,
    a time for keeping silent and a time for speaking,
    a time for loving and a time for hating,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

We get out of balance when we forget that everything has a purpose under the heavens. Your life was designed for something meaningful and long-lasting. What will your legacy be? Do you live according to God’s purpose? Or have you lost your way and somehow wandered into a meandering, pointlessness existence?

When I have gone through seasons of wandering, I have found it helpful to immerse myself in daily scripture reading and prayer until I found my way home. The Psalms are especially helpful for wilderness walking and if you read one a day, you’ll have 150 chances to discover yourself again.

Whatever season you are in right now, turn, turn, turn back to your purpose. No season lasts forever, but God has a call on your life in every season. Turn around and listen, and God will remind you.

A Time for Laughing by Bonnie Bennett

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