Seasons change. It’s important to know which one you’re in.

By Louis Lotz

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

For years I squirreled away things in my barn—old machine parts, scraps of wood, buckets of bolts, coils of barbed wire. I’d think, Someday I may need that forward clutch cable to a rototiller I no longer own, so I’d better keep it. Somehow it felt good to hold onto all that stuff. For me, it was a time to keep.

Then one morning I stood in the doorway of the barn, looked around, and thought, Why are you keeping all this junk? You’ll never use it. So I threw it away, most of it. Hauled it to the dump. And it made me feel good to unclutter my life.

What had happened for me, in that experience, was simply this: the seasons had changed. For me, it was no longer a time to keep. Now it was a time to cast away.

Just as seasons change in nature—spring turns to summer, summer to fall, fall to winter—so the seasons of life change. And the genius of life is knowing what season you’re in, what time it is in your life.

I learned the hard way (which is pretty much how I learn everything) that when the gears of life just don’t seem to turn in harmony, when you keep trying to make something happen that clearly doesn’t want to happen, it’s not so much that you are doing something wrong. It’s that the season changed and you didn’t notice. You’re still trying to plant when it’s time to harvest. You’re mourning when it’s time to dance.

Churches experience seasonal change. I remember the consistory meeting where we were lamenting the failure of a certain program to yield results. We’d worked hard and invested considerable time and money, but the harvest just wouldn’t come. A thoughtful elder said, “Maybe it’s just time for us to sow. Maybe the time to reap will come later, for some future consistory.” God gave us the grace to know what time it was.

Think about it. Are you sowing when the ground needs rest, or trying to reap when you haven’t diligently sown? Are you breaking down what God is trying to build up in your life?

May God give you the grace to know what season it is.

“Signs of the Kingdom” is written by and reflects the opinions of Louis Lotz, a retired RCA pastor who lives in Hudsonville, Michigan.