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. 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. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-13 NIV)
“Earth, do not cover my blood; may my cry never be laid to rest! Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as one pleads for a friend. “Only a few years will pass before I take the path of no return. (Job 16:18-22 NIV)
“If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. (Matthew 24:22 NIV)
This is not a shortcut in life. This is God making a way for our days to be cut short and abbreviating our suffering. Those who have cried for me have played a key role in my healing process. Had I had to cry alone I would have drowned in my tears. Had I had to suffer alone the pain and sorrow would have been unbearable; they almost were anyway. Intercessors have helped to shorten the length of this winter season in my life. Have you ever been curious about why some winters are longer than others? If not, you probably don't live in Oklahoma. Why are there different seasons? Why are there annually inconsistencies in seasons? Why don't certain states and various parts of the world have a winter?
Winter in Florida barely demands that you even own a jacket. If you own a coat you're a dead giveaway for a transplant, a "snow bird". If God made the cold necessary why doesn't every state and country have to experience COLD? It's not fair! Like the weather, there are seasons in life and they happen to all of us at different times and to different degrees. Whoever came up with the idea that the last season of mankind’s life are the "Golden Years" was either having a "senior moment" or they were a young person trying to wedge their way into the heart of a "Golden Oldie" in hopes of securing an inheritance.
What's so golden about a season that includes prostate exams, laser eye surgery and liver spots?
Sounds more like the "Rusty Years" to me. Seriously! I'm not trying to be "Danny Downer" here, but as those years and seasons rapidly approach, I'm praying for Him to cut these days short. Then there are seasons created by the choices that we make, both good and bad. And, believe it or not, our obedience often leads us into to difficult seasons that are a mystery to us until God's purpose is revealed to us after its completion.
In 1981, I had a great job with great pay. I had only been a Christian for four brief years, and God was really showing Himself strong in that short season of my faith. Life was good. I was single, making good money, driving a Corvette, and in church every time the doors were open. Then, out of nowhere, that season of spring began to give way to a summer swelter. Or, should I just be real and say, God began to turn up the heat in my life. I didn't know the Bible very well at that time, and I didn't understand the biblical concept of the variety of seasons in a man’s life as mentioned in the book of Ecclesiastes. I just knew that for the first time in my life I was truly happy and I never wanted that feeling to change.
Just when I thought I had found life's 'holy grail' (Christianity), God changed seasons on me and didn't warn me. Oh, and in the midst of all the wonderful things that this spring season in life had brought me, I had met the girl that I wanted to marry. Then, God... Driving off the campus of the premier Christian university of that day, having just dropped off that girl, the one I wanted to marry, the cool breeze of that gorgeous spring season gave way to the furnace of an Oklahoma summer, figuratively speaking.
For the first time in my four year relationship with God, I heard Him. I know it sounds weird. It wasn't an audible voice but a very distinct impression in my heart, if you will. Up to this point, He had made His presence known to me through my emotions. (Remember in an earlier journal that our soul in broken down in 3 parts. Our mind, will, and emotions) Now, all of a sudden, I hear these words: Sell your car, and go back to college, and learn about Me. Yeah right. I'm twenty-four years old, making great money, and I'm quite sure that I've found the woman of my dreams. But, what the heck...I'll play along with this voice.
I felt so close to God that I answered Him like I would a friend.
I said, Sure, I'll sell my one of a kind Corvette, but You will have to sell it, because I’m not going to let anyone know that it's on the market.
Seasons were about to shift.
My home was roughly 20 minutes away from the campus, and I was listening to my Christian music enroute to my 'digs'. Actually, I was listening to the group The Imperials, the song, "Heed the Call". Not funny, God! Did I mention that my season was about to drastically change? When I got home, my roommate was already in bed, but he had left a note on the kitchen table that read, and I quote, "Dewey Turney called and wants to buy your car". WHAT???? How could that be? Only twenty minutes ago had I even given God permission to sell my car.
I hadn't told anyone that it was for sale. (This was way before cell phones.) To make this long story short, the next day, I called this man that I barely knew and scheduled to meet him so that he could test drive my Candy Apple Red, with custom louvers from New York, mint condition, one-of-a-kind car. Before I gave him the keys to test drive it, I gave him the price. With an edge to my voice I said, If you want my car, this is the price you will pay so don't even attempt to negotiate--understand? At this moment, I was mad at God and at Mr. Turney. That day, he bought my car and drove away leaving me totally dumbfounded. The new season had begun.
I wasn't sure that this Christianity thing was as neat as I had originally thought--at least Oklahoma Christianity where seasonal shifts are so radical. God moved quickly just like the seasons of the Great Plains. Within months I was entering the 'fire' of God's summer season. I was driving a VW bug (the name "Bug" says it all), unemployed, and had given nearly all my money (for tuition) to the premier university of God's choice.
How could God be doing this to me? What had I done to deserve this desert? Come to find out, this season would be the first of many seasons for me in the "furnace of affliction". Remember Isaiah’s words?
Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried and chosen you in the furnace of affliction. For My own sake, for My own sake, I do it [I refrain and do not utterly destroy you]; for why should I permit My name to be polluted and profaned [which it would be if the Lord completely destroyed His chosen people]? And I will not give My glory to another [by permitting the worshipers of idols to triumph over you]. (Isaiah 48:10, 11 AMP)
This was not God's punishment. He would actually even provide the funds to enable me to graduate debt free. This was God's preparation for a call, a purpose, that was beyond my comprehension at that time. He was preparing me to be a career soldier in His service. It was a tough season for me, and yes...my wife. Remember the slightly built jazz singer? The one I had dropped off at her dorm just before the seasons changed and the winds shifted? Where was Mary Poppins when I needed her?
Fast forward. I am now in the biggest, most difficult season that I've ever known, and pray, will ever know. The big difference: I'm the one who flipped the pages on this calendar to a December in Siberia. The breeze of God's blessing gave way to the blustery artic blast of my depraved humanity.
How will I get through this one? Will God do a repeat performance and do miracles in the midst of this season, this mess? Will he clothe me for this frigid occasion? My first season was created due to obedience; this season is the result of my disobedience. Is God the same either way? Is He always a Redeemer? Of course He is! Is it actually possible that the outcome of this season could prove to be as marvelous as the season change of 1981? I can only hope. And most days my supply of hope must be carefully rationed.
Fortunately, I've now known God for 37 years and know that He has a strategy beyond this rogue plan that gave birth to the days that I now refer to as a "Siberian Blizzard". I've been in 'white out' conditions for awhile now. Today, I hang on to the words of a man who experienced a few tough seasons of his own, the apostle Paul.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV)
I'm not trying to get out of this season prematurely; I'm simply trying to get God's Spirit in me immeasurably.
Unlike the first shift of seasons, this season is definitely winter. How do I know that? First, the relationship between Jennifer and me has been quite icy. My children are warming toward me but nothing like the Global warming of our earth. This blog was written months ago so things are better now.
Will this season ever give way to the budding flowers of spring-like relationships? All I know is that there is a frigid breeze blowing over the frozen landscape of my soul. I learned how to handle the furnace, but I've always hated the cold. I can only pray that there will be enough of God's Spirit/oil to provide for me the heat necessary to warm my inner man during this Siberian season.
I believe that every season requires two things: saying "goodbye" and saying "hello".
Today, I say goodbye to the way things have been and to the church that I've been privileged to serve for nearly 20 years. Because of this shift in season, not a shift in my desire, I am sad to say goodbye to many of the friends, staff, and volunteers who gave freely of their time to help the people of our city to know God. I say goodbye to so many things that I have loved these past two decades. It's a new season. How foolish it would be for me to think that I can control the thermostat of God's purposes or the calendar of His dispensations. I must now get dressed in the proper attire for a new season.
I will say hello to this new moment in time with anticipation that my life will be twice better than it was before my betrayal. I say hello to a new mental, spiritual, and emotional wardrobe. I will embrace the garments of praise, during this cold time and pray that the worship of my heart will be enough to heat my cold disposition. I will NOT allow the sub zero temperatures of this occasion to freeze my destiny.