Monday, October 29, 2018

A Season for Reflection

In the Everyday Journal group I belong to we are exploring the season we are in. I am using the contrasts in Ecclesiastes 3 metaphorically as way to examine my heart and mind in the season of life I am in. Unfortunately my month got very busy and I did not get to do a blog post for each verse as I had planned. So, this post will give the reflection questions for the remaining verses for anyone who is interested in using them. 

Photo by Aaron Burden,

"A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance." Ecclesiastes 3:4

  • Are there areas in your life where you have not given yourself time of permission to grieve properly? Any losses that you mourn? Any heart aches that you rushed by, covered over, moved past without allowing yourself time to experience grief?
  • Ask God to help you see those wounded places and to help you give them the time and space needed to grieve them.
  • What needs to be celebrated in your life? 
  • What has brought you joy?
  • Take time to experience and express gratitude to God for those things and times.
"A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them." Ecclesiastes 3:5a
Scattering and gathering stones reminds me of the altars that would be built in the Old Testament as a way of remembering what God had done. Read Deuteronomy 27:1-8 where God told his people to build an altar of stones to remember His commandments.
  • Are there times and events in your life where God protected you, rescued you, carried you through? 
  • Do you need to do something significant to help you remember them and to remind you of God's faithfulness? Maybe an art journal page or a piece of art or even a sculpture of stones in your garden.
  • Or maybe you have allowed things or habits in your life to become idols and you need to scatter them and return to fully worshiping God alone. Confess these things to God.
  • What spiritual practices might you engage in to help you focus on God?
  • A practice I did at a retreat one time was to write something I was struggling with on a stone, then leave that stone somewhere as a symbol of letting go of it and giving it to God in trust. What do you need to let go of?
"A time to embrace and a time to refrain." Ecclesiastes 3:5b
This makes me think of spiritual disciplines. Some are disciplines of engagement - embracing times of Bible study, prayer, worship, serving others, etc. Others are disciplines of abstinence - refraining from things in order to draw closer to God with things like fasting, silence, simplicity, serving in secret, etc.
  • Is this a season where you need to make more time to embrace the things that draw you closer to God? 
  • Do you need to deepen your time in the Word or prayer? 
  • Do you need to focus more on serving others rather than simply being focused on your own needs?
  • Do you need to refrain from something for a time in order to be reconnected with your dependence on God? 
  • Do you need to fast from food or social media or spend some time in solitude?
"A time to search and a time to give up." Ecclesiastes 3:6a
  • This seems like a great connection to reflection. Ask God to search your heart. (Psalm 139:23-24)
  • What does God reveal to you? Are your thoughts more Christ-centered or self-centered?
  • Are you searching for things in life to fulfill you that God alone can fulfill?
  • What might you need to let go of or give up in order to trust and rest in God alone?
“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” ~Augustine

"A time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend." Ecclesiastes 3:6b-7a
This makes me think of Jesus talking in Matthew 6:19-20 about treasure: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

  • What areas of your life and which practices help you keep a kingdom focus?
  • Where do you need to throw away the things that are earthly and getting too much of your focus, that may be taking your time away from God? 
  • What areas of your life need to be built up or mended so that you "treasure God, investing your life in what God is doing and devoting yourself to the good of other people"?
Author Jan Johnson, in her book Abundant Simplicity, says that focusing on the messages the culture feeds us can often take our minds off of Kingdom matters. We need to look to Jesus and "subtly replace them with thoughts of treasuring God, investing our life in what God is doing and devoting ourselves to the good of other people."

"A time to be silent and a time to speak." Ecclesiastes 3:7b
  • Sometimes it is best to not speak our minds if doing so may offend or cause someone harm. Ask God to reveal any areas where He may be calling you to silence your voice.
  • Proverbs 31:8-9, however, call us to speak for the voiceless and destitute. Are there things in life that scream injustice to you? How might you speak up to help benefit those things or people?
  • Do you need to refrain from gossip or unkind talk? Do you need to defend those being spoken ill of?
  • Do you need to practice giving kind words more often?
"A time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace." Ecclesiastes 3:8
  • I personally struggle with loving others well, yet feel the clear call of God to do so. Ask God to show you who you may not be acting in loving ways toward. Spend time praying for them and asking God to help you love them.
  • What does it look like to love your neighbors? 
  • What are some steps you might take to show them love?
  • How might you counter the hate and division that seems to permeate our world?
  • How can you share God's love in your community today?
Thank you for journeying through a season of reflection with me this month. I pray that you will find, as I have, that reflection on all things - good and bad - helps us draw near to God, who has "made everything beautiful in its time". Ecclesiastes 3:11

Previous posts of reflection on Ecclesiastes 3 can be found hereherehere, and here.

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