What Time is It?

The following is from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, King James Version (KJV). For a musical version try this Video–Turn Turn Turn by The Byrds

3 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

“What time is it right now in my life?” I’ve been asking myself this question in prayer and meditation, so I can know and follow divine guidance. This text is comforting to me, and its rhythm and poetry speak to my heart, and keep my mind occupied. 🙂

Taken literally, this text doesn’t make much metaphysical sense. A time to kill? Inevitably we kill things sometime, but is that an image we want to hold for long? Generally, no. SO I take this symbolically. I believe the different stages in this text are all saying the same thing:

There is a time to actively participate in all things, and there is a time to rest and go within. There is a time to create, and a time to release. There’s a time to hold on, and a time to let go.

These times are rarely well-defined. We can’t say, “Ok. In Winter we don’t work at all. We just take it easy and rest by the fire. In Summer we work all day every day, no breaks, do not pass go, do not collect $200, just work work work!” Because then, what do we do in Spring and Fall?

No, these times can be much more subtle. They are above all, inner times, or inner seasons. They can and do overlap, but I feel they are a dominant state. The concept of “time” in this text is a guideline. You probably work in Winter, both on a mental and spiritual level as well as physically. But our dominant state, at least for those of us who live in cold climates, is more rest than outside work.

The author of Ecclesiastes is sharing the Truth that life works best for us when we flow with its seasons. We need to learn how to work with our inner seasons and landscapes, rather than resisting them.

The references to gathering stones, war and peace, etc, are cultural references of the time the text was written, as well as metaphors for the building up and taking down, the letting in and letting go that we experience as the evolution and change that take place in our lives.

Verses 9-15 read:

9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?

10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.

11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.

13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.

14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.

15 That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.

There are beautiful images and great affirmations here! And the question is put bluntly enough: “What’s in it for us?” What’s the point of working or laboring? And what, do tell, is our God-given task?

The affirmation that put the whole thing into perspective for me is:

12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.

13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.

So, we labor not only to receive God’s gift of joy to us, but also to participate in that gift. We, too, are the gift. We are a gift of and from God our Creator and Father; the same Father who makes everything, including us, beautiful in its time. And that gift is given to us, as merriment and a good life, as well as through us. We can only receive what we allow God to give through us.

But, God has not only made everything beautiful in its time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

What does this mean for us? It means the world is within us! We already have everything we could ever need, imagine or co-create with God. We just do not, because we cannot, see that whole world at once. We cannot, in our own mind, know God’s work from beginning to end, why things happen, or how they will play out. It is not ours to know. In fact, if we knew, our ego would explode–it is not equipped to handle all that! God knows this and keeps silent, rolling out the tapestry of our lives to us just a little at a time. What a blessing!

We need to trust God, because in our limited mental and intellectual understanding, we will never know God’s work from beginning to end. The thought “Give God what is God’s” comes to mind. We need to allow God to take care of us. He will do it anyway–but if we really allow it, we experience much more good, and less struggle.

The text ends with the greatness and eternal nature of God:

14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should *fear before him.

15 That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; **and God requireth that which is past.

*this is not dread or ego-centered fear as we know it, but awe and wonder

**God sees the big, eternal picture, and everything in every time, existed for His glory. Everything was required, from the eternal perspective.

I encourage you to read this text or another on seasons that resonates with you. Ask yourself that question: “What time is it right now in my life?” You will receive guidance. And by following it, you will live in the flow of God-Life within and around you.

And as we let it be so, so it is!

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