(From Ecclesiastes, Chapter Three)
"There is an appointed time (mo'edim) for every thing. And there is a set time (mo'edim) for every purpose and event under heaven ...
(in heaven there is NO time at all) -
A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to harvest, or uproot.
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
(be that the embracing of people or ideas).
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 repair;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate;
(as in "love the sinner, hate the sin)
A time for war and a time for peace..."
And, not wanting to be guilty of "adding to or taking from", but it did start this passage by saying "all things and events under heaven", so I would add -
A time to submit and a time to revolt! A time to receive Authority and a time to shun authority.
The immediate question that arises is, of course, how will we know the difference in these "times"? Some things are obvious, there are fixed times for planting and harvest, etc. But other things, like knowing when to pursue healing by faith, or when and how to accept death if healing doesn't manifest like we were hoping, or deliverance from financial strain, or whatever, we may have been beseeching help with - how do we know when to fight and when to refrain from fighting?! And I think the answer in each situation is that one must be led by the Ruach, because there are no set answers. I have heard folks make ridiculous statements, ridiculous because they are Scripturally unfounded, like - "It is never the will of G-d for anyone to be poor, or sick or to die early, or to leave their mate, or to revolt against an authority...etc. etc." And yet, in my 50+ years I have seen "a time" in each of these instances, in which it was proper. In which people who were clearly following G-d to the best of their ability had to make these decisions. And besides, if none of these difficult situations, requiring such hard to discern decisions, were ever to be found in our lives then why does Yeshua say, "In this world you WILL have tribulation, but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world." The word "tribulation" does not suggest a mere annoyance, but a life altering difficulty! Yes, there is the idea of overcoming, but that does not promise that we will face no losses in the process! Clearly there are times when affliction of one kind or another will produce His ultimate ends for or in us better than our own idea of what "victory" or "deliverance" will look like, and He does not hesitate to use what He must to His ends and our betterment! Difficulty develops the character of our Lord in us, and causes us to learn to pray as He did, "Your will be done, and not my own!".
Clearly, just as surely, there are also times when we must "part ways", or reject, or even revolt against, the Authority in our lives. Perhaps they have missed Him, or have taken a turn off the path we must follow, or have developed patterns that we can not justify, and in those times, if we are to continue following our Lord it becomes clear that we can not follow them! There are times when the Spirit has whispered, " It's alright, yes, you have discerned rightly that they are going the wrong way, but never mind, for now just keep following them and I will take care of you, in spite of them!" But there are other times when He has plainly said, " You must not follow them any further, go here, or there, and I will provide the instruction you need." He has never left me without accountability and leadership! And yet, the leadership has not remained the same all these years, though the direction He is leading me in has! People are given free will. Sometimes it is that the leadership in question has "missed G-d", but more often it is just that the path of righteousness which they have been personally led to pursue, by the Holy Spirit of G-d, has only connected with a part of my individual path of righteousness, down which the Spirit is leading me! Who I am becoming has required more than one Iron tool to sharpen me sufficiently! I am not suggesting that there is more than one way to G-d! Yeshua has plainly stated that He is the only Way! However, does it not say, "He leads me in the paths of righteousness, for His name's sake.."?
There is a time, as we approach adulthood, to become independent of our parents, the first stewards of our souls, and to take up the Authority of our own lives. It is not necessarily always at the magical age of 18, as Americans seem to think - it should be after we have obtained the character needed to make righteous decisions, but somewhere between 18 and 30, most certainly, the time will come to leave the nest. If not physically, then at least in terms of accepting the responsibility of our own live, upkeep and relationships, etc. And from there we must be responsible for whom we allow to have authority over us, and very discerning about it! We need to remember that submission is a voluntary act of the freed will! Therefore, whom we choose to submit to is a serious decision. We should be sure that we are Spirit-led in this matter, for we are told to submit only to G-dly Authority, those whom He has placed in Authority, and who are themselves humbly submitted to His Word, and His Spirit! Also, we should be sure that they are to hold authority over us at this time! For as the Scripture has stated, there is a time for every purpose under heaven. We should never assume that a situation is "right" or "wrong" simply because it seems obvious. There are times when even submission to one's husband is not the right thing to do, because it would be enabling sin! That is not being a "Help-meet" in the proper sense of the word! We are to provoke or encourage each other to good works, not be the supporter or involuntary enabler of sinful behavior! These things must be Spirit-led, or else we can find ourselves in codependent situations which hinder our ability to hear and follow G-d, instead of furthering our relationship to Him, and the relationship of those "in authority" as well, as intended! Yeshua said to even remove body parts if they cause us to sin! How much more should this apply to harmful relationships which impede our growing up into Him. Protection is good for a season and is absolutely necessary for growing things, children, plants or animals! But there is a time when even plants must be set out into the elements if they are to prosper, and so it is with humans. All eaglets must be encouraged to fly solo if they are not to become prisoners of the nest!
"When I was a child, I thought as a child, and acted as a child. But when I became a man I put aside those childish ways..." Innocence is a childish way, self-defense mechanisms are for childhood also, and irresponsible trust is for children only. We are grown it behooves us to know the on in whom we have placed our trust! When we are grown we are to learn to trust G-d to defend us, but we are to also learn to discern properly when it comes to our fellow humans. Yeshua had the balance down, in that He trusted no man with certain things, and yet despaired of no man entirely. He trusted that G-d was able to correct any wrong, answer any need, and take care of Him ultimately. He lived the kind of trust about which David sang, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him."!
As we press into G-d we learn that nothing is to be taken for granted, but each thought sifted and each word weighed by His standard of righteousness. We are to learn that standard. We are to be so connected by His Spirit that we discern His will in each situation, and we are trained, over time, to choose that over the will of our flesh. We are trained to recognize His voice and follow only Him, and trained not to be so religiously bound by man-made rules that we can not rightly divide His Word! It is time that we grow up into mature Sons, that can take the proper responsibility for our actions and decisions, and not keep irresponsibly shifting that care over to others, who take it, often wrongly, often unknowingly, for the purpose of controlling us. Whether they do so consciously or not is not the issue. But that is how codependent patterns are formed. We default on our responsibility and get into bondage to someone else who picks it up - many times out of compassion. Still, no matter the intention, our responsibility is for us to manage, and for others to assume our responsibility is a boundary infringement! There is a difference between bearing a burden and carrying a load. We are to bear each others' burdens, those things represent stuff that is not meant for us alone, but is corporate responsibility, too much for one person. But we are told that each man should shoulder his own load! That which is entrusted to Him by a loving and all-wise heavenly Father, and is therefore NOT too much for him, or he is expected to seek grace and help from G-d with that! But in that situation if we deliver a person from that which is intended to form character in his or her life we cripple them and bind them to us in an unhealthy way. In child rearing we call it "spoiling" the child! But if we desire the Freedom for which Messiah died to give us, then we need to realize that Freedom requires us to be responsible! This is so spiritually as much as it is financially or materially. In an ideally fair and just world the cause and effect of this fact would be a bit more evident, as Proverbs states, "He who does not work should not eat.", but though at times it seems to be different, still G-d maintains the right of the standard! And this is His way of doing things!
As His followers we are to be always striving toward that balance, we are to live by faith, but to avoid presumption! This balance can only be struck by walking the path of righteousness which He has designed for us, by having the proper relationship to Him with the help of His Spirit. The relationship that He requires of His grown up sons. And that is only accomplished by submitting to the work of His Spirit through His chosen authorities in our lives, and in discerning when their work is over and being willing to move on to where He is indicating that we go next! Life in G-d is a grand adventure, fraught with the possibility of danger or delight at every turn. There is a time for each, and we can trust Him in either. But we are responsible to know where He is. He does not require us to know what He is doing, or even where He is taking us! If we know where He is, then where He is taking us is really of no big concern, but who we are following is! Rav Shaul, also known as, Paul said, "...follow me as I follow Messiah...". That should be the direction and attitude of anyone who is ahead of us. Otherwise our attitude must be, "Lead me, follow me, or just get out of my way", for I have decided to follow Yeshua, no turning back! Many times that will lead us to take the paths "less traveled". But as the poet discovered, that path, though lonely at times, can be the one we needed all along, the one that "made all the difference" in our lives for G-d. I bid you happy, discerning, travels and many adventures, and may you always know where He is!