|Photo by Isabel Grosjean|
Saturday, February 1, 2014
Transitions: Triplets of Purpose – What Time Is It?
As we have seen, God will guide our transitions through life, ordering our actions, direction and timing if we follow His lead. King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, taught that there is a proper time for everything. But he also taught that all of it is vain and meaningless (Ecclesiastes 5:10; 6:2-12) unless we honor and glorify God as we go through each of life’s seasons (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
God’s timing is always perfect, even if we wrongly experience Him as being agonizingly slow to fulfill His promises (2 Peter 3:8-9), or so sudden and swift in taking a loved one home (James 4:14) that we stagger in shock and dismay. If we follow His Word and His will for our lives, our timing will be synchronized with His rather than out of step. To rush ahead of His timing or to lag behind in disobedience is sure to propel us off the cliff into disaster.
Just as He orders our physical transitions throughout life, by the miraculous way in which He designed and created us (Psalm 139:14), so does He order the transitions to each new direction, the correct pathway at each fork in the road, if we follow Him (Proverbs 3:5-6; Psalm 37:4-6).
Waiting on His perfect timing and seeking His will (Lamentations 3:25-26) leads us to God’s best, as He delivers us from trouble (Psalm 37:7-13;34), gives us a new song of praise and testimony (Psalm 40:1-3) and prepares for us unimaginable blessings (Isaiah 64:4).
Before His ascension to heaven, Jesus told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem “for the promise of the Father.” (Acts 1:4). Surely they were eager to start telling the world of their Saviour, and they must have felt prepared by the time He spent with them, His teachings, and their first-hand knowledge of His miracles and resurrection. Yet they waited in obedience and were rewarded by the Holy Spirit empowering them to lead many souls to Christ! (Acts 2)
One of the first acts of obedience for many Christians is baptism by immersion, which pictures the cross (as the believer sits upright in the water), Christ’s burial (as the believer is plunged beneath the water), and Christ’s resurrection to His glorified body (as the believer arises from the water). Baptism does not save us, nor does any good work (Ephesians 2:8-9), but it is a public confession of our allegiance to and identification with Him.
The sacrament of baptism represents the transitions from having our sins nailed to His cross, dying to our sin nature as He died and was buried, and rising again to walk as a new creation in Him. Solomon refers to these spiritual transitions in physical terms, all of which have an appointed time (Ecclesiastes 3:2-6). We must die to self (1 Corinthians 15:31) to be born to new life and to live for Him (Romans 8:10-11; Colossians 3:9-10; Galatians 2:20; 3:24).
Ecclesiastes 3:3 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.
We must kill, break down, and cast away our bad habits (1 Corinthians 15:31) so that the Holy Spirit can heal our wounds, build up our faith, and gather us together as living stones laid on His sure foundation (1 Peter 2:4). As we recognize our inability to save ourselves or to accomplish any good work in our own flesh (Romans 7:18-23), we weep, mourn and refrain from embracing those false gods that lead us to destruction (Romans 12:2). Then we can laugh and dance for our joy in the Lord (2 Samuel 6:12-15) as His everlasting arms (Deuteronomy 33:27) firmly hold us in His loving embrace.
Before we are saved we build our lives around our own desires, goals, and abilities (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25).We get all we can, we hoard or keep it for future use (Luke 12: 16-21), and we sew ourselves garments of our own self-righteousness. But when we are saved we learn that to keep our life (Matthew 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; 17:33). we must lose our self-absorption, cast away our own selfish ambitions, and tear apart or rend our garments of self-righteousness, which God sees as filthy rags (Ecclesiastes 3:6-7; Isaiah 64:6).
The transitions of salvation do not stop there – we turn from apathetic silence about God to speaking boldly to and for Him (Ephesians 6:20); from hating to loving Him, and from being at war with God to being reconciled to Him (2 Corinthians 5:18-19) through the glorious Gospel of peace (Ecclesiastes 3:7-8). As we shall see next time, He even transforms us from being His enemies to being His ambassadors! (2 Corinthians 5:20)