I recently taught my first graders a math lesson about the times of the day, A.M. and P.M., and reading the time on a clock face. Once we got past my first grade boys calling one another “clock face” and giggling hysterically, it was a great discussion. For example, we always eat breakfast in the morning. We put on our pajamas at night. If we tried to pick up lunch-time and put it in the middle of the night, it would not work! This stuff is elementary, but kiddos need practice to learn the concept. I guess that’s why they call it elementary school.
Just as there is a “time for everything” in our days, there is a time for every season in our lives. This biblical concept comes from the familiar passage in Ecclesiastes 3. Solomon, King David’s super-rich, super-wise son, wrote Ecclesiastes. Over all, it’s a pretty gloomy look at life. Solomon tells us about all his riches and wealth and pleasures, and then says it’s all worthless. (There’s some really awesome stuff in Ecclesiastes, too. But that’s another post for another day.) In the midst of all the “worthlessness” he writes about, we find the poetic Ecclesiastes 3:1-11.
We can look at lots of issues through the lense of “a time for everything.” Since our series is focused around relationships this month, let’s take a look at a relationship most of us will find ourselves taking part in at some point in our lives: romantic relationships. Now, I’m not a relationship expert. My advice to you, dear sister, comes from the Word of God and from my limited experience.
A Time for Everything
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (verse 1)
Solomon starts this section in verse 1 with the beautiful words: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” You and I will go through many seasons in our lives. Some are joyful and some are filled with sorrow. Some are busy, and some will make life move at a slower pace. God ordains these seasons, and they are good! Your season may not look like someone else’s, but that’s okay. God is working in you “both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).
I’d also like to emphasize “a time for everything” does NOT mean “everything at one time.” The passage treats life like a timeline with spots on the timeline for each season. It does not treat it like the drawer in my kitchen that seems to get filled with all kinds of non-related things at the same time. There is a specific season designed for a specific matter, not one season for all the matters we will encounter in life.
For romantic relationships, there are many seasons: singleness, marriage, engagement, dating, heart-broken seasons. These seasons are not meant to happen all at once. There are specific times for them and specific “matters” that accompany each season. It is my belief that these “matters” get all-too confused in our culture. We, as young women fully devoted to Christ, should look to God’s Word, not our culture, to know what is appropriate for each of these seasons.
A Sowing Time
“a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted” (verse 2)
The first seasons Solomon addresses are seasons of sowing and reaping. In regards to relationships, I believe this is an excellent concept for us to consider. Most of us would agree that we hope to “reap” a healthy, godly marriage one day. This is not God’s plan for everyone, but marriage will be the norm for most. If you say that is what you intend to “reap,” you must “sow” the seeds for that now. If you are currently in a single or dating season (or any other season, for that matter), it is vital to “sow” seeds of a godly woman in your life.
In my first year of marriage, I had to come face-to-face with the stark reality that I did not become the godly, super-homemaker I wished to be the moment I said “I do.” I only “reaped” what I had “sown.” Just as a farmer does not plant potatoes and expect green peppers, you cannot live your single and dating years with little gospel-focus and expect to have a vibrant, godly marriage one day.
What are you currently “planting” in your life? Whether you are single or married in the future, I trust you hope to be a Spirit-filled, gospel-centered woman. What can you do today to be able to “reap” that kind of character twenty years from now? Are you practicing daily Bible reading, prayer, and service to others? What about self-discipline and self-control?
A Waiting Time
“a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing” (verse 5)
Speaking of self-control, it is impossible to read this text with relationships in mind and not blush a little at verse 5. Solomon states, there is “a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.” The obvious is clear here, but just in case you don’t have a godly, older woman in your life to tell you—this means don’t have sex until you get married. I would also add that the wise young woman does not look at sex as a line in the sand to see how close she can get to, but a beautiful gift under the Christmas tree that stays tightly wrapped until the joy of Christmas morning. If you are dating or engaged, it is a waiting time.
Someone wise once told me that it takes a lot of self-control to be married to one person for the rest of your life. That means you only have eyes for your spouse until “death do us part.” The BEST way to plan for and practice faithfulness in marriage is to practice waiting in dating and engagement.
The obvious is easy here, but there are other things worth waiting for in marriage, too. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the spring of life.” There are so many things that involve our hearts! As you are dating, be careful to act like you are dating. That is your season, and that is good! Just for example, you don’t need to have professional photos taken with the boyfriend you’ve been dating three months. If he’s really who God has for you, you’ll have the rest of your lives to take those cutesy couple pictures. And if you break up next week, you’ll be really glad not to have hundreds of high-quality images to remind you of a relationship that didn’t pan out. If you are dating, don’t act like you are engaged. Don’t act like you are married. Save some conversations and some experiences for your engagement season. Save something more than sex for your husband.
A Beautiful Time
“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (verse 11)
I love the way this section heads toward a close. I’ll wrap up at verse 11, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Whatever your season, God has beautiful plans for you! There is a time for everything.
Dear sister, what season are you in? Are you practicing contentment in your season? Or are you wishing for a different one? What are you “sowing” in your current season that glorifies God and will “reap” a God-glorifying life later?
Dear Father, we praise You for ordaining different seasons for us. You know us perfectly, and You order our steps for Your glory. Help us to be content in the season we’re in right now. And help us to glorify You as we act biblically in each season.