There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven--
A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NASB)
Hymn: "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" Martin Luther, translated by Frederick H. Hedge
As I've mentioned elsewhere, I have been in the core team of four church plants, three of which did not yield a church in the end. After the door closed on Crossroads, the specific plant mentioned in the above link, I was eager to get back to work. I kept an eye out for opportunities, I was applying for new positions, I was growing antsy. God, however, had a period of rest planned for me, and I failed to appreciate it fully while it was happening.
When we talk about there being a time for everything, as the author of Ecclesiastes notes, we often think of all the active somethings we can be doing. We read it as though there is a time to act in one way, and a time to act in another way, and a time to act in yet another way, with no spaces between. But as we come near the end of the harvest season in the northern hemisphere, let's consider that there is also a time to rest, and a time to wait, and a time to prepare.
Nothing in nature produces fruit all the time. There is always a period of gathering resources, storing energy, making preparation. The trees here are beginning to lose their leaves to go into a season of waiting, resting, and gathering what little energy they can to return to vibrant life in the Spring. God knows that we need rest. He built a Sabbath into the created order and surrounded us with examples of plants and animals taking rest for a season before returning to their tasks. And sometimes, when we are being stubborn, He will withhold opportunities and refuse to open doors long enough that we get the rest we need, or learn to wait on His timing, or make the preparations He knows we need for the next step.
As a person with a mind toward church planting, it can be very difficult to spend time not working. Our culture, which emphasizes efficiency and constantly moving toward shifting goals, makes it even harder. But we all need to learn to recognize the season in which God has us, and enjoy it for what it is, and give glory to God for the periods where He restores and renews us in quiet rest as much as those where He uses the work of our hands.
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation