Catch and Release: Understanding Times and Seasons

By Shellie R. Warren

“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven…He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.”—Ecclesiastes 3:1&11(NKJV)

 “To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.”—George Santayana

A woman by the name of Maria Edgeworth once said, “If we take care of the moments, the years will take care of themselves.” That’s interesting (to me) being that the Italian poet, Cesare Pavese was once quoted as saying, “We don’t remember days, we remember moments,” which complements a quote that I’m sure all of us are more than familiar with: “Make each moment count.” And what’s the commonality that these three quotes share? The word “moment”. And what does the Word, which is Adonai (John 1:1), tells us about moments:
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”—2 Corinthians 4:16-18(NKJV)
Our light affliction is but for a *moment*. I’m pretty sure some of us just needed to be reminded of that alone; that what we are currently *walking through* is for “an indefinitely short period of time; instant”, “a definite period or stage, as in a course of events; juncture” and perhaps, most importantly, this definition of “moment” right here: “importance or consequence”. Some of us need to hear, right now, that the Most High’s children (Psalm 82:6) do not experience times of “pain, distress, or grief; misery” or “sickness, loss, calamity, or persecution” (all definitions of “affliction”) for naught. God would never be so random. Or so cruel. No, such *moments* are important. They are to bring about certain consequences, one of which is “an exceeding and eternal weight of glory”. Yep. If you choose to trust the Lord (Psalm 28:7) and his Word, what comes with that is believing (Mark 9:23) that affliction works out an inspired level of glory; that temporary challenges shouldn’t take our focus off of the eternal (not just *heavenly* but *lasting*) benefits that are manifested on our behalf. For our good (Romans 8:28). Therefore, sometimes the prayer may need to be not, “God, why am I going through this?” or “Why can I not release what I have experienced in my past?” but “Help me to remember that each moment, whether pleasant or unpleasant, is about bringing me to a greater state of glory. No matter what. Because you said so.”
And all of that alone complements the lead verses and the lead quote in a very thorough way. Indeed, *everything* does have a season and time. Indeed, *everything* does become beautiful in its own time as well. Not *our* time, mind you. Its *own* time. However, the purpose of this particular message isn’t to just focus on trials and tribulations. It’s to further explore what King Solomon meant when he was inspired (2 Timothy 3:16-17) to pen Ecclesiastes 3. It’s to dive deeper into such words as “seasons” and “times”.

Ask Adonai About Your Season. And Time.
Something that the Comforter (John 14:16-AMP) got me into the habit of doing a couple of years ago was periodically going to Ecclesiastes 3 and seeking out *wisdom* from the Father (James 1:5) regarding what season in my life I was in…at the time. *At the moment*. You know, when you read that chapter in its entirety, is it just me or does it basically read like a spiritual weather forecast:
“A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”—Ecclesiastes 3:2-8(NKJV)
OK, but is it also just me or does it seem like a lot of us don’t position ourselves to receive, well, *what time it is?* When it’s not what *we want*, we’re so quick to rebuke demons and pray for goodness and yet, again, the Word does tell us that there are *moments* for what we may not necessarily be excited to deal with. That there *are* times to break down, there are times to weep (one of my favorite “weep quotes” is “As we weep, we see.”), there are times to lose and throw away… there are times of war and peace. And you know what? We don’t make up that timetable. Acts 1:7(Message) tells us that “You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business. What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit.”
Now, it’s another message for another day that it’s *our choice* whether we want to take what the Holy Spirit has to offer: the counsel, help and strength that he provides to get us through certain times; that sometimes the moments would not be nearly as hard as we’re *allowing them to be* if we would simply utilize all of the spiritual tools that we have available to get through certain seasons. However, before expounding, again, the first thing that we may need to do, is seek (Matthew 7:7-8) to be more discerning (Proverbs 2) about our times *and* the times of those around us. Sometimes, in relationships, there is a time to embrace and there’s a time not to. Sometimes, in communication, there’s a time for speaking and there’s a time to hush up. Sometimes, when it comes to the spiritual principle of giving and receiving, there’s a time to plant (pour seed) and there’s a time to pull it up (be willing to receive as a result of what you’ve given-2 Corinthians 8:8-15). Based on where you are, it may not always be *very comfortable* but that doesn’t mean it’s not *extremely relevant*. Psalm 24:1(NKJV) tells us, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein.” Does the weather *ask us* if we want it to be winter or spring? Nope. The earth has an agenda, a purpose, and it’s our job to simply adjust. If we’re *really trusting* that various times within our lives also have a definite purpose, spiritual maturity (Hebrews 5:12-14) tells us that, in response to them, we must be willing to adjust as well.

Understanding Seasons. Better.
OK, *who hasn’t* gotten the mailing about people coming into your life for a reason, season or lifetime? I think I’ve mentioned before that it’s interesting that it seems like the only “til death parts you” relationship that is expected, at least biblically, is marriage (Genesis 2:24-25, Matthew 19, I Corinthians 7:1-16, Ephesians 5:22-33). Children grow up to live out their own lives. Friends have ever-evolving needs (and expectations). Business relationships change and transition. Oh, but marriage? That’s a commitment that is meant to last. Yet more and more, it seems like it’s the *first one* that people set out to end. Anyway, my point in bringing all of that up is that while there may be seasons *within* a marital covenant, the union itself was not designed to be seasonal (together one day, apart the next). I was given that reminder as I sat in the doctor’s office waiting on a friend yesterday.
William and Helen sat across from me. William in a chair. Helen in a wheelchair. What initially started the conversation with them was that I was intrigued by how they teased one another. How they understood each other’s body language so effortlessly. How there were moments when they were totally content being in silence. Upon asking them how long they had been married, William casually said, “Next October, it will be 20,000 days.” 20,000 days! Wow. Just wow. He broke down for me that those days added up to 54 years. I stood equally amazed. Days. Years. It was still a *huge* commitment. And testament. To honoring covenant.
In under an hour, we discussed their key to a lasting marriage: being responsible in your commitments (Galatians 6:5-NCV) no matter what; what’s wrong with the Church today: taking out (Sabbath and) Sunday school because education is to be the cornerstone of the Church; how the formula for success is a life of balance because it doesn’t matter how great you are on your job if your personal life is in disarray. Oh, and what makes up good child-rearing: to raise your children, from day one, with dignity, respect and grace (they have three children, six grandchildren and all of them have a close relationship with both of William and Helen, by the way).
During our chat, there were pauses of quiet contemplation. After one of them, toward the end of our conversation, after already discussing some of the things that I’ve already accomplished, William, while doing his Sudoku puzzle and not even looking up at me, asked, “So, what are you going to do with your life?”
At first, internally, I was like, “Huh?!?”
He followed that up with, “Are you satisfied with where things are?”
I paused. “No. I’m not.”
He dug further, “So, what’s the situation?”
I heard myself say, “One of my favorite quotes is that adulthood is about surviving childhood. I think I am just now really healing from my past and as of late, I’ve been asking myself, ‘What do I want? What do I *really* want?'”
He paused. “Most people don’t survive their childhood. They make horrible choices because of it. They don’t pick the right marriage partner, the right job, the right friends. Everything is about trying to make up for their past rather than really planning out their life. Most of them realize it too late too.” He paused again. Longer this time. “How old are you?”
“37”, I said.
“It’s time you get to figuring it out.”
My reply? “I think the Lord had you say that to me.”
His response? With a smile, well more like a smirk, he replied, “So many people don’t listen in life. I’m glad you heard me.”
For me, I knew that William was serving as my own spiritual meteorologist for that day. He was providing me with a heads-up of a clear and definite season shift on the horizon. Yet, here’s the thing that I want to share as it relates to spiritual seasons, in general. Look at how the word is defined:
Season: one of the four periods of the year (spring, summer, autumn, and winter), beginning astronomically at an equinox or solstice, but geographically at different dates in different climates; a period of the year characterized by particular conditions of weather, temperature, etc.; a period of the year when something is best or available; a period of the year marked by certain conditions, activities, etc.; a period of the year immediately before and after a special holiday or occasion
The first thing that hit me was that, for each definition, it has “a period of the year” within it. Are there not times within this year where you have *loved* what was going on and times when you have *hated* it? Have there not been babies that have been born and loved ones who have passed on (Psalm 116:15)? Do you not recall moments when you have felt like you were going to “break down” under the pressure and then moments when you felt stronger than ever (built up)? A lot of times, we make seasons out to be a bit more dramatic than they have to be. Good and bad happen in each season. In every season. Oftentimes from moment-to-moment. It’s what we choose to focus on that tends to have the most emotional impact.
The second point is found in the two definitions of “season” that are underlined. Seasons take place when something (or one) is available for it to. One definition of “available” is “suitable or ready for use”. In Romans 9:21(NKJV), the question is asked, “Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?” In Psalm 66:10(NKJV), King David was inspired to pen, “For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined.” If it’s the *time of year* for laughter, it’s because that’s what’s best for us. Oh, but how we tend to attempt to pray away some of what we really do need. Most of all. For instance, Ecclesiastes 7:3(NKJV) states, “Sorrow is better than laughter, for by a sad countenance the heart is made better.” Oftentimes, when we’re sad about something, it is due to grief or regret or because we are unsatisfied with something within our lives. The cool thing about laughter is that it speaks to something that amuses us. OK. But the *beneficial* thing about sorrow is that it speaks to *change* – and if we’re paying close spiritual attention, it can be change for the better. Whatever the case may be, according to season’s definition, these things happen when it’s suitable for us to make some adjustments (whether we believe it’s time to or not). The other “ah ha” is that we must allow these adjustments to happen on our job, in our relationships, etc., as well. Therefore, the “reason, season, lifetime” writing is profound and on-point in many ways; however, we must be willing to receive that things may not always be as permanent as we would like. Sometimes seasons come to *change* the way we do things; not to *end* them being done. The relational transitions between Jacob and Esau is a good example of this (Genesis 25,27, 32, 33&36).
And third, we have to keep in mind that seasons are purposeful; that each one exists for a very specific reason. Therefore, when the conditions line up for us to dance, it’s of purpose. When conditions line up for us to mourn, it’s of purpose as well. Yet, no matter what season you may be in, do you see all of those “ands” connecting the seasons in Ecclesiastes 3? *They tend to work together*. They tend to balance one another out. Therefore, if you’re crying continually for months on end, you might want to seek some godly wisdom as to why (some laughter should break those moments up, no doubt!). If you’re constantly feeling hatred about something (or one), you might want to seek some answers on it as well (“God is love” and we’re made to reflect his image). Whatever the case may be, in most of the definitions of “season” that I looked up (even “for a season” meant “for a time, especially a short time”), something that I discovered that the thief (John 10:10) has done a pretty good job of, in times past, is making people (me included) think that seasons had to be endless and uninterrupted years or decades. *No, often my choice in response to a particular season brought about that kind of result!* If I am willing to be more open-minded, I can admit that almost daily I experience season changes. Yesterday, I received a package in the mail. In a minute, I’m about to throw out some trash: a time to gain, a time to lose. They both serve a purpose. Life, and the things within it, always do.

Beautiful. In Its Time.
This brings us to the final point. The other two words that really triggered me within the lead verses were “everything” and “beautiful”. *Everything* is a pretty loaded word, right? One definition is “all”. Kinda reminds me of when Romans 8:28 tells us that *all* things work together. OK, but here’s another way it’s defined: “something extremely important” or “a great deal”. Great deals happen for a season and a purpose. This means that when what we perceive as major highs or major lows come about, we must keep in mind that they exist for our benefit as well. And also that they will manifest to bring about something beautiful. Whether immediately. Or eventually. And when something is beautiful, it is “wonderful”, it is “very pleasant”, it is (good one!) “excellent of its kind” and “very satisfying”. Yes, things will add up to bring about a feeling of “full contentment”. Again, a contentment on a level of excellence that is of its own unique kind. I’m sure this is a part of the reason why the lead Scripture tells us that we can’t always figure out what God’s doing. There’s no blueprint. It’s a “custom-designed beautiful” with incomparable seasons created just for that outcome.
Oh for grace to trust Adonai more!
Do you recall how 2 Corinthians 4:18 mentioned that eternal things are things that we don’t see? OK, and do you also recall how in the lead Scripture, it states that Adonai puts eternity into our hearts? One definition of “eternity” is “infinite time” – time that has no beginning or end. The only thing that I can recall in the Word that is also that way is Elohim (Revelation 1:8). *Just now* (Psalm 18:28) am I understanding a reason why King Solomon may have brought up “no time” in the same space as “some time”. It’s because when God is in our hearts, we tend to become, what I call, “time bottom liners”. We’re not so caught up in what’s going on from moment-to-moment so much as *how* it will affect us eternally. Therefore, if it’s happening to make us better, let it happen…for as long as it needs to…to make us closer to God, to make life richer, to make us spiritually more beautiful.
And the cool thing is that when that is your priority, time and seasons start to matter less and less and purpose fulfillment begins to matter more and more. Seasons manifesting purpose is how time is perceived. And prayerfully embraced.
Doesn’t that make Psalm 20:4(NKJV) just jump off of the page: “May He grant you according to your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your purpose.” A “Shellie edit” of this would be: “In getting to all of the beautiful that God has for you, may you embrace each and every season. Within them all, may you *catch* what you need and *release* what you don’t. May you be ready and willing to do whatever is needed at the particular *time* to get you from one *moment* to the next. May you strive for the eternal rather than the temporary. May Adonai’s purpose being fulfilled in your life be your constant goal.”
Seasons come. Seasons go. Time shifts. Moments pass us by. In the grand scheme of things, it’s an experience that brings about an excellence of its own kind. It’s all beautiful. Case in point: Christ dying was a brutal *and* beautiful event, right? It had many seasons in one instance. If we focused only on the physical experience, we would miss the spiritual outcome. And what a tragedy that would be.
Therefore, we have to be willing to learn to look at life’s broader picture.
Again, no matter what, it’s all beautiful.
Daily. And eternally.
So, stay open. Stay faith-filled. Trust God. Be patient. *Adjust*.
Another season is coming. Ultimately for your good. Soon and sure enough.
Selah. And amen.
©Shellie R. Warren/2012. This article is reprinted with permission. Subscribe to Shellie’s Word Seed devotional.

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