Something happened to me today. I hesitate to even write this, because I don’t want you to think I’m… well… bonkers. But here’s how it went down.
I was lying in my bed crying, as one does when one is hormonal and having a very bad day (or rather, a very normal day that feels very bad because of the hormones), and I was asking God to Show Up. Begging Him, really. At first what I did amounted more to bargaining than asking: “If you just speak to me now, I don’t need That Thing. I don’t need anything, just You, just to hear Your voice right now! Please!”
Pretty quickly I realized that my heart was in the wrong place, that basically I was trying to bribe God with my impressive Unneed for Him. I checked myself and changed my motives, but I was still desperate to hear Him. “I need You, Lord. More than I’ve ever needed anything. Speak to me, Lord! I just need to hear You right now. Please, give me a verse, a word, a booming voice to comfort me – anything!” At this my tears immediately stopped, and my heart strained to hear.
Incredibly, I heard… nothing. Absolutely nothing. Did you think it was that kind of story? I wish it was. I wish more than anything that I could hear God speak to me, directly and boldly, just once; that He would tell me his grand plan for my life, and I could rest in that knowledge in the hard times, peacefully weathering every storm because I know exactly how everything will turn out. But it doesn’t work that way!
I did get an answer from God, though. “Ecclesiastes.” It wasn’t something I heard, but rather, it was a word planted into my soul. Friends, I wish I could say I took that word humbly and gracefully. I did not. The conversation went like this:
Me: “What? Ecclesiastes?? Where on earth did I come up with that?! Be quiet, I’m trying to hear God!”
Soul: “Ecclesiastes 3:1.”
Me: “Ecclesiastes 3-1… 31? Does Ecclesiastes even have that many chapters? Listen, I’m serious here. I need an answer from God right now. God, why won’t You speak to me??”
Soul: “Ecclesiastes 3:1.” (I know, this is when you either think I’m completely nuts, or completely stupid. I understand.)
Me: “Okay, I get it. But I don’t even remember what Ecclesiastes is about!! I don’t even know where to find it in my Bible right now, I’m too upset! Is it in the Old Testament? Is it one of those weird New Testament churches? God, don’t you want to give me something better, like a Psalm? How about a nice Psalm?”
Soul: “ECCLESIASTES 3:1.”
So, begrudgingly, I got out my Bible. I sang a snippet of the children’s song in my head – ‘Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, I-ii-Saiah…’ and remembered where to find what I was looking for. I flipped to Ecclesiastes 3 and saw that the first 8 verses, plus verse 11, were already underlined. Ecclesiastes 3:1 reads:
“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” (NLT)
Oh. Right. That verse. It goes on:
“A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
3 A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
4 A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
6 A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
7 A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
8 A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.”
And finally, verse 11:
“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.”
Humbly I realized that God had given me an answer as soon as I had asked for one. I fought Him, but His ways are perfect. There is a season for every purpose under Heaven. This is not the season for That Thing. This is a time for planting, trusting that the harvest time will come. Sometimes this is a time of laughter and dancing, and sometimes of grief and tears, like today. And sometimes it’s a time to quit searching. Because God has made everything beautiful for its own time, and we cannot see His plan from beginning to end, no matter how much we may beg or bargain. God had gently and lovingly given me the same answer He’s given me a dozen times before: Wait. Not yet. Be patient.
In the front of my Bible I have a slip of scratch paper on which I wrote, “I can trust what He does because I know Who He is.”
Say that slow, and believe it. I can trust what He does, because I know Who He is.
For everything there is a season. He has made everything beautiful.