“To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven.”
We seasoned persons of the senior spectrum likely recall the hit song, “Turn! Turn! Turn!”. Written by Pete Seeger in the late ’50s, it was sung by a number of notable artists, namely Judy Collins, The Lettermen, and Seeger himself. It became America’s number one when recorded by the Byrds in 1965.
Composed as a protest song intended to influence the transformation of our culture (“turn”), the lyrics were a nuanced expression of resistance to the governing establishment. Did you know only six words were Seeger originals? The rest were lifted directly from the Bible. Seriously.
(You may find it interesting to compare the two. The original is found in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 3, verses 1-8. The words “turn”, and “I swear it’s not too late”, were added. All of the remaining lines are the poignant, thought-provoking words of scripture.)
I’ve been writing about the weather seasons in Ohio — how winter is interminable, spring emerges for just a moment, and summertime seemingly arrives prematurely. Most folks say they really like the changing seasons. I don’t particularly.
For me, Shangri-La would be life in San Diego, Phoenix, or Honolulu. I like warmth and sunshine, and lots of it. Here in Buckeyeville, there is a severe annual shortage of both.
I find solace, however, knowing, according to both Ecclesiastes chapter 3, and “Turn! Turn! Turn!”, there is “a season for every purpose under the heavens.” Even in Wilmington, OH-IO. (I know it smacks of irreverence to compare God’s Word with Seeger’s word, but bear with me.)
Let’s turn our attention to autumn. Fall is generally nice, with pleasant temps, lower humidity, and blue skies. It is a gentle season of preparation for winter; a transitioning; the annual move from hot and sultry, to cold and barren. Summer break is over now, and school has started again.
Combines are busily harvesting the produce produced in the summer heat. And, oh my, the exquisite beauty of autumn’s color extravaganza, with leaves changing their garb to the festive, fall foliage.
Do you recall from science class why leaves change color in the fall?
As winter looms near, plants quit producing chlorophyll, the green pigment used in photosynthesis to produce nourishment. When this green dye dies, trees trade their summer khakis for the kaleidoscopic colors of fall.
It’s a flash of brilliance, preceding the leaves browning and tumbling lifeless to the ground.
There is a season (turn, turn, turn).
I’m in the fall season of my life. Similar to a tree with winter approaching, it’s like I don’t have as much chlorophyll. I can still flash a moment of brilliance, but it’s not sustainable. I have to pace myself; I’m just not as resilient. My zip gets zapped more quickly.
But I’m not complaining. I think our pace slowing down is divinely purposeful. Absent the former self-centered passions and egocentric drive, we veterans of life are afforded the opportunity to reflect; to contemplate; to appreciate; to prepare. You see, our life here on earth has an end date.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born, and a time to die”, (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2).
Regardless whether you are in the spring, summer, or fall of your life, we must all recognize that our winter is coming. Death is inevitable. Hebrews 9:27 puts it this way: “… it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment”.
My friend, listen to me: nobody is getting out of here alive. Winter is approaching.
Are we ready for our appointment with destiny? Will we acknowledge our lives have been blemished by errant action, evil desire, and sinful decision? Will we admit our need for forgiveness; our need for a savior?
Romans 10:9 explains the simplicity of the gospel message this way: “If you will confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Have you prepared for your winter?
There is a season (turn, turn, turn).
Next week we’ll talk about God comforting us in our wintertime, OK?
Dave Hinman is Pastor Emeritus at Dove Church Wilmington. Contact him at [email protected]