I write regularly about repentance, and usually mine in particular. I write about my Cross encounters and repentance because that is my normal. It often feels like a non-stop cycle of seeing and falling apart and surrendering and then being put back together—only to take another trip round the mountain almost immediately. In light of that, I was reminded of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.
I’ve always approached this passage as a general, cover-all-emotional-bases deal, but I’m not so sure any more. God is the sovereign Keeper of Time, and I think that there are periods when the leaves fall off the trees with more frequency than we’d like.
“A time to break down, and a time to build up…”
I am ever operating under the belief that I’m “out of order.” I believe, really believe, that the time of breaking down is meant to be quick and rare. But why? Where is that said? Paul’s letters were full of correction and confrontation and exhortation in equal measure to encouragement and praise. So why do I read his letters to the Corinthians and Ephesians and expect to bypass the rigors of discipleship?
Brother Lawrence said that for the first 10 years that he was saved, he despaired that he would never stop sinning. I don’t know what kind of sin he meant, and I don’t think that it matters much. It’s a window into his journey, and I am greatly encouraged by it because it means I’m not alone. There is “a time to every purpose under the heaven” and one of those is “a time to break down.”
Now, does this mean that I give myself license to do whatever I want? No, of course not. What it means is that part of receiving my story with gratitude is receiving God’s timing in telling it. I am learning that it is very difficult to accept and give thanks for the time it takes to be sanctified.
My Cross is to be taken up daily for as long as I draw breath in this life, which means that there is no bypassing the seasonal breaking down. Right now, I am being shelled with great frequency and it seems like a bombardment without end, but this will not always be the case. I may be bunking with Ms. Weeping and Mr. Mourning right now, but I am told that there is also “a time to laugh” and “a time to dance.” I will remember that.
This weekend, I choose to put down the scorecard and stop looking around for the purpose of comparing my story to everyone else. I choose to love my Father and thank Him. He breaks me down, but He also builds me up. He requires my death, but He’s given me the life of His only Son. He leads me into bloody battle after bloody battle, but He also fills me with the Peace that passes understanding. I am a woman loved and blessed beyond the telling of it, and that’s more than enough to go on.
I know that all God does will last forever;
there is no adding to it or taking from it.
God works so that people will be in awe of Him.
Ecclesiastes 3:14 HCSB