Monday, December 31, 2012

Byrds' Eye View

In 1965, the American rock band, The Byrds had a hit with arguably the oldest lyrics of any modern #1 song when they released their cover of Pete Seeger's "Turn! Turn! Turn!" In fact, nearly the entire song (minus the melody and just a few words) is copied out of the King James Version of Ecclesiastes 3. As we enter the new year, though, this old song with ancient lyrics still raises some questions and relevant points for us to consider.

At the time of its release, some may have interpreted "Turn! Turn! Turn!" as a war protest song, given that after the Biblical words, "a time for peace" at the end, Seeger added, "I swear it's not too late." But looking at the passage in the Bible, the very simple message is just that life is filled with various seasons. For instance, there was a season when each of us was young, and if we live long enough, there will be a season when we are old. There are seasons of health and seasons of sickness, of happiness and of sorrow, and as the song and Scripture show us, the list can go on and on!

I wonder: what kind of season has 2012 been for you? and in what ways can you maybe see the seasons of your life changing?

I know there are a lot of people who may look back at this past year and see it as a time of sadness, and I can understand. Maybe you've seen a lot of sickness and pain this year. Maybe you've had had car problems or financial problems or difficulty in your relationships. Maybe you've lost loved ones this year. Or maybe you're thinking about some of the national tragedies we've seen, from the shooting in Aurora, CO to Hurricane Sandy or the recent heartbreak in Newtown, CT.

But I hope you remember that 2012 has had its share of happy moments, too. Maybe you've seen some answered prayers, or maybe you've seen the kindness of strangers. Moments of comfort, the love of friends and family - these things are what keep us going sometimes.

An act of kindness can bless
someone in a difficult season
If recent events have caused you to forget that life is good or to lose faith in your fellow man, then consider some of the many positive stories that have taken place this year. There's the doctor in New York who decided one day to offer free medical care to those who were uninsured in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. There's the police officer who bought a homeless man his first pair of shoes on a cold November night, and the students from Texas A&M who formed a human barrier around a soldier's funeral service to block a hate group from protesting there. Think of the security guard at Disneyland who goes around asking little girls for their autographs because he calls them princesses.

If you missed some of these stories or want to read more, BuzzFeed has collected several of them HERE, and I defy you to read the whole list without getting tears in your eyes!

And their list is far from exhaustive. Here in KY, there's the story of Dalton Dingus, a terminally ill boy who wanted to set the world record for receiving the most Christmas cards. He needed 36,000 for the record, but they recently reported that he's received over 700,000! I'm similarly encouraged by little Makailyn Bradley, who, for her 9th birthday, decided she didn't want any presents: she just wanted friends and family to donate gloves, hats and scarves to chemotherapy patients!

Then, there are the miraculous moments: the times when people have been healed and doctors can't explain it, the times when money or food has shown up just when people have needed it, times when God has given us peace despite our circumstances. Maybe you have experienced something miraculous yourself this year, or maybe you know someone who has. We've heard about more than a few at our church this year!

All of these are instances where, despite the darkness, we have seen the light shining through and are reminded that God is still sitting on his throne! And this is also part of what the poet wants us to understand in Ecclesiastes 3. He describes all these various seasons in life, and then he goes on to say, in essence, that whether we feel like the seasons we are walking through are good or bad, God is still in control, and he has a plan. We don't always understand because we have a limited view, but we can trust in the Lord because we know he sees a much bigger picture.

Recognizing that our loving God is in control gives us hope.

"We know that all things work together for good for those 
who love God, who are called according to his purpose."
- Romans 8:28

And if we ever doubt that God is loving, we need only look back to the message of Christmas, that Jesus was born to be Emmanuel - "God with us". Jesus was born because the Lord wants us to know that no matter what we go through, if we are following him, he will never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). If we still doubt, we need only look forward to Good Friday, because:

"God proves his love for us in that 
while we still were sinners Christ died for us."
- Romans 5:8

No matter what kind of season you've been through or what season lies ahead for you, you should never have to doubt God's presence or his love! You are precious to him! (see Isaiah 49:15-16!)

In the coming year, there will be times of grief, I'm sure, as well as times of celebration, but until we reach our heavenly home, remember that all these things are temporary. As my mom likes to say, "This too shall pass."

Are things difficult right now? This too shall pass...

Is everything going well for you? This too shall pass...

Both the good times and the bad will pass away, but we can be sure that the love of God is never-ending! And won't it be wonderful on that final day, when the seasons of this world will finally pass away, and those who trust in Jesus will enter a new season - one of unending peace and joy, when all our tears will be wiped away for good, and we will live in the loving presence of our Lord forever!

I hope this encourages you as you wait patiently for the seasons to turn (turn, turn). And as you have opportunity, I hope you'll reach out to others who are going through difficult seasons, and lift them up as well! Most of all, I pray you will know God's blessings in the coming year, no matter what kind of season you go through!


1 comment :

  1. Thank you for your words. It was just what I needed. Blessings to you and your family. God is in control. Amen.


Please comment on this post. Do you agree with me? Do you disagree? Is there something I left out or should have covered? Was something confusing? I want to know what you think!