“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” – Ecclesiastes 3:11
Fall–Autumn–has always been my favorite season. It is that time of year between the long, hot, fun, lazy, crazy days of Summer and the short, cold, bare-tree, icy days of Winter.
I love the fall colors and the cooler temperatures, without having to worry about snow or ice (at least for most of us). I love watching the squirrels hard at work gathering nuts, preparing for the winter. (I had one as a pet when I was a boy.) I love football at all levels. (Go Dolphins!) I love the cherry bagels and pumpkin coffee that Sabra and I share at Panera’s on Saturday mornings that are only around this time of year. I love Fall.
I grew up in Miami where every season was pretty much the same. Now I live in Texas where it is not that different. It has been in the 90’s until this week, late into October. In between Florida and Texas, however, Sabra and I lived in the Midwest and Northeast where we were able to enjoy the beauty of Autumn.
I will never forget our first Fall in Pennsylvania. Our apartment balcony looked out over a small forest of trees. Early in October, I stepped onto the balcony and quickly called for Sabra to join me. It was like God had hit a switch during the night, and the trees had lit up. I could not believe the beauty. We both stood in amazement as we gazed at the various colors and their hues. Only God could do this.
I have written the last two weeks about enjoying the past, but not remaining there. Looking forward to the future with hope, but not living there or worrying about it. And Fall makes me think about that very thing.
Sabra and I both have wonderful families, and we enjoyed the spring of our lives as we grew up. And we also enjoyed the summer of our lives as we met, married, served the Lord together, and raised two great children, whom God blessed us with.
But we are now in the fall season of our lives. Our kids have both moved away from us this past year to follow God’s call on their own lives. And as I had to retire early for physical reasons, we have had to cut back on things and tighten our belts. It certainly is not how I pictured this season of our lives.
But despite these changes, I can honestly say from my view from life’s balcony these are the best times of our life. Sabra and I have grown closer than ever to God and each other. We have more time than we ever did before to spend together and enjoy the simple things in life. And we are excited about what God is doing and where He is leading us. This blog is one example of that.
You see, God created and loves the seasons. He uses every season for His perfect plan, including the seasons of our lives and marriages. A great example is in Ecclesiastes 3. God begins in Ecclesiastes 3:1: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”
We can certainly relate this to the actual seasons of the earth. But God also applies it to our lives. He continues to explain this further in Ecclesiastes 3:2-8: “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.”
The point is not the specific things that are mentioned in these verses. God is saying that He has a purpose for our lives, and that includes our marriages, at whatever stage we are in. From birth to death; from the moment we say “I do” until “death do us part.” So we can be certain that whatever stage we are in, God will be with us, He’ll be guiding us, and He will use us to serve Him together.
It may not always be easy, but God will make it a wonderful time if we make Him the center of our marriage. Whatever season of life we are in, God will make sure we grow together as husband and wife, and grow in our walk with Him. He puts it this way in Ecclesiastes 3:9-14: “What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.”
Do you fear God in your life and marriage? In other words, are you completely in awe of Him, and are you in complete wonder at His greatness, love, and grace?
I am completely amazed that God has given me such a wonderful wife as Sabra to go through life with. That is truly an act of His grace.
We tend to be “Spring” and “Summer” oriented in our American culture. But in God’s plan, Fall, and, yes, even Winter are beautiful seasons too. We may slow down a bit as we reach the Fall of our lives, but we should have grown in wisdom, love, grace, and confidence in God that can only come from years of walking together as husband and wife with Him.
God taught Job, for example, through all his trials about the wisdom that comes with age. Job asks in Job 12:12: “Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?” While growing older in itself will not help us live wiser and more godly lives, a life spent serving the Lord will. God tells us in Proverbs 16:31: “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness.”
As we commit ourselves to loving and serving the Lord, each other, and all those around us, the Lord will bless and use us and our marriage for His glory, even into the winter of our lives. We can rejoice in each and every season.
Questions for Discussion
- Read the Scripture passages in this week’s teaching, and discuss together some of the things that God spoke to each of you about.
- Do you both fear God? Are you in absolute awe of Him? How is that demonstrated in your lives?
- Which season of life are you currently in?
- If you’re still in the summer of life, what can you be doing to gain God’s wisdom for the seasons ahead? How can you be serving Him together now?
- If you have reached the fall of life, how have you grown in God’s wisdom? How can you make certain you will continue to grow in His wisdom? How can you use that wisdom and pass it on to those still in the spring and summer of life?
- If you are in the winter of life, discuss together about how God has blessed you throughout life, and what wisdom you have gained from Him. How can you pass those blessings and that wisdom on to others?
- No matter what season of life you are in, pray together and ask God to help you to continue to grow in His wisdom. Ask Him to clearly reveal to you how He wants you to use what He has given you to minister to others in His name and for His glory.
We have told you before about the ministry of Steve and Annie Chapman. Their music ministry has blessed our lives and marriage for many years. They write and sing songs about marriage and family. Their website is steveandanniechapman.com.
One of their songs is titled “Seasons of a Man.” It personifies and describes how each of us go through the various seasons of life. The verse on Fall is as follows:
I am the autumn days, when changes come so many ways.
Looking back I stand amazed that time has gone so quickly.
When love is more than feelings, its fixing bikes and painting ceilings.
It’s when you feel a cold wind coming, I am the autumn days.
You can listen to this touching and beautiful song here:
We have also told you several times about the teaching ministry of our friends Stephen and Brooksyne Weber at www.dailyencouragement.net. In a teaching last week, “Spiritual Gravitas,” they discussed a very similar topic to ours this week. It is excellent, and I know it will bless you. It provides a very balanced perspective.
By the way, both of these couples above are in the fall of their lives also.
May God bless you and your marriage in all His wonderful ways,
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.