December 29, 2008

Embracing the Seasons of Life

Written By Cary Schmidt

Principles that Rise to the Surface When Looking Back Ten Years

Ecclesiastes 3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

Psalm 1:3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Over the Christmas break I’ve been organizing our photo collection during some down-time. Wow, does time fly! Over the past few days I’ve looked at 39gigs of photos for a grand total of 15,600 pictures dating back to 1999 when we got our first digital camera. My picture taking really ramped up a few years ago when I got a really good camera. It’s been fun visiting all these moments and memories.

In all, I’ve relived 9 Christmases, 9 first days of school, 9 sets of family birthdays, 9 years of trips to Disneyland, 9 family vacations… well, you figured it out—pretty much 9 of everything! Through it all I’ve had moments when I laughed my head off and others when I cried my eyes out—and everything in between. And there have been some things strengthened in my heart, as I look forward to 2009. There are guiding principles that rise to the surface as well as many things I don’t regret—things I’m so glad the Lord led us to do. Maybe they will encourage you as you begin your new year.

First the principles, and in the next article I will share the things I don’t regret.

  1. Life is very seasonal—by God’s design, life happens in seasons. Each season is unique and comes with its own challenges and blessings. These seasons are divided by things like pre-school years, elementary years, high school years, college years, early ministry, early marriage, etc. Right now I have a high school senior who drives a car! And it’s a brief season that is passing all too quickly. Just as one season ends, a new and exciting one begins. This is God’s good plan.
  2. Discontentment is when we are in one season wishing we were in another—enjoy the season you are in NOW! It probably won’t last long, and you don’t want to look back on it wishing you had done something differently. Since you only get one shot, get it right the first time. Do it God’s way.
  3. Your best fruit in life will come at the right seasonfruit comes in seasons too, and God’s best blessings in life and ministry are worth the wait. Just keep doing the right things day after day… year after year. No matter how small they are or insignificant they seem, just keep doing them.
  4. Even your spiritual battles will come in seasons—spiritual attack comes in waves. It’s there for a season and gone for a season. I’ve seen this dozens of times in my own life, but Scripture teaches it as well. Luke 4:13, “And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.” More than a few times I’ve prayed, “Lord, what’s really going on here?” Only to have His Holy Spirit whisper, “You are in the midst of spiritual battle.” In those times, all I can do is pray and resist—refusing to quit and determined to press forward by God’s grace. And sooner or later, the season passes!
  5. In every season ask yourself “will I regret this ten years from now?“—to make the most of the season you are in, you must take the long view. A thousand times I’ve come to an opportunity or a big decision. When viewed in the light of this question, big decisions become much easier. Will I regret this ten years from now? Does this help me honor the Lord and go His direction in my life? If so, you will never regret it! Make this question a part of your daily thought process. It’s a great way to test your moment by moment decisions, and it’s a great way to look back with no regrets.

When I looked at those thousands of photos, I saw thousands of moments—memories that perhaps we wouldn’t have made if I let the urgency of a moment over-rule the value of the season. Thank God for every season, and cherish every one in contentment. If you live this season well, you will one day look back on it with deep gratitude.

And just ahead is a new season—a new year to fully embrace for God’s glory. Do it in such a way as to have no regrets.

>Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.