[This post is a companion to the podcast, episode 5, by the same title. Hop over here to listen before you read on.]
The sun was just beginning to set over the hill that overlooked our subdivision. The smell of freshly cut grass lingered in the air and the shouts and laughter of us kids floated above the pulsing din of the cicadas. Our parents watched from the back deck of our neighbor's house as we zigzagged across the yard, mason jars in hand, trying to capture as many fireflies as we could. Those elusive insects were here, then there, and we darted toward each flashing light, trying to catch another one before it disappeared into the fragrant wall of honeysuckle that bordered the grass-carpeted playing field of our childhood antics. We finally collapsed onto the lawn, laughing, sweaty bodies itching from the grass in which we rolled. Our parents called us to come in as the last glimmer of light faded from the summer sky.
Summer...it is my favorite season of the year. It was as a child, and it continues to be so now. I love the sunny days, the warm nights, the comfort of being outside and all of the fauna and flora that come with it. Some of my fondest memories are associated with summer.
Conversely, I don't like winter. It may be overreacting to say I hate the winter season, but not too much so. I don't like the cold, damp days. I don't like the short days that go from dreary to dark all too quickly. I don't like the dead look of the vegetation. I don't like to walk on brown grass that crunches under your feet. Snow...well, that's the only redeeming element of the season.
But, here's the thing...we don't get summer without having winter...at least here in North America. You see, after enduring the harshness and unpleasantness of winter, I get to see everything gradually come to life in the spring...trees budding, flowers blooming, birds singing, young wildlife running about. Then, spring gradually transitions into those lazy, hazy days of summer...at least in a perfect world. But, you get the idea.
Bottom line...seasons are all necessary and each one serves its purpose. The same is true in our lives. We go through various seasons over the course of our lives and each one fits a need in the linear process. Sometimes they build upon one another, at other times they provide transition, and still others, they place us on a sort of hold to give us a chance to reset. These, and many others, are the reasons that seasons exist in our lives.
I was just finishing up the season of college life when I was preparing to get married. My fiancé and I had spent months planning, dreaming and expecting the big day that would start the next season of our lives. She had another year of college to complete and we would make our first home together in Nashville while she finished up. Everything was set, except for one thing...I needed a job to support us as we embarked upon married life. I was sweating it as the wedding day was only two weeks away. However, just at that moment, a job came through. God answered our prayers. My Dad was happy, as he had suggested just a few weeks before, that we might want to consider postponing the wedding until I had a solid income. God always shows up on time. Here's the kicker though...my job...it was working at a funeral service college, as the staff assistant. That meant a lot of things, but one of them was that I would be interfacing with deceased people and grieving families. I learned a lot about the funeral industry and how to help those who were hurting, and I came to understand more about those who would be serving their needs.
At the time, it was just a job. I needed to pay the bills...to pay our $180 monthly rent, buy our $40/week groceries and the gasoline for our one car that my wife and I shared between our jobs and school. The on-call nights, transporting of bodies from hospital morgues to funeral home prep rooms, the removal of deceased family members from their homes and even the occasional graveside service conducted for a person who had no family or friends to come and pay their last respects...these were the day-to-day of my job. To some, it was a morbid occupation. To others it was weird. At the time, for me, it was just a way to pay the bills. It was a season that was a transition to what God had called us, or so I thought. It would not be until later, that I would look back and see just how important that year of struggle and adventure was as it prepared me for the season of life and ministry that would come. Here are a few of the things that I learned during that year:
Dependence Upon One Another as a Married Couple
During our first year of marriage, my wife and I lived 5 to 7 hours away from each of our families. While they were supportive of us during those months, giving us groceries and treating us to meals out when they came to visit, they were not there with us day to day. That meant that, when we faced a conflict or challenge, neither of us could run to parents for support or consolation. Instead, we had to figure it out ourselves...we had to lean into one another and strengthen our relationship through communication and understanding. That strengthened our marriage a great deal during those first 12 months and laid a foundation that has been strong ever since...even through the harshest of tests.
Money Management and Faith for Needs
That first year of marriage was filled with wonderful things for my wife and I. We experienced so many firsts and it was a year of growing in our relationship, learning how to be on our own and dreaming about our future. To say it was a challenge for us financially that first year, is an understatement. With my minimum wage job and the money my wife earned by cleaning a couple of houses, we had just enough money to meet all of our obligations. Every two weeks, we even had enough money on Friday to go to Mr. Gatti's Pizza for dinner...our splurge! We learned to be faithful in giving our tithes first, and we learned how to make a little go a long way. Those lessons have served us well all of our married life.
How to Comfort People Who Have Suffered Loss
Dealing with death and dying is not something that every person is comfortable with, nor with which they have experience outside of their own loss. As someone who would be involved in pastoral ministry and counseling, having this experience was invaluable for learning how to care for people who are hurting. I was miles ahead of my peers as a young minister when it came to being there for our people who were facing the loss of a loved one.
As I mentioned before, part of my responsibilities in this position was to serve on-call duty on a rotation schedule. When on call, I had to leave, whatever hour of the day or night, to go to a hospital, nursing home or private home and remove the body of a decedent and transport to the funeral home. This required me to be flexible with my schedule. It taught me that it was necessary to be available at a moment's notice when people are facing tragedy. I would be called to that duty many times over the years.
Organizational Leadership and Planning
While at the funeral service college, my duties were varied...I basically served to support the Dean in whatever way needed. One of those responsibilities was to schedule the clinical rotation for the students. While it was not a complicated task, it helped me to learn about planning and working with personnel. Getting my feet wet in this process would give me experience that provided a foundation for the many organizational planning and leadership roles I have fulfilled over the years.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
God Wastes Nothing
So you see, this season of life turned out to be more than just a year of waiting for life to start. It was a training ground in so many ways. It proves that God wastes nothing.
This is a truth that we all need to understand when it comes to pursuing and fulfilling our purpose in His master plan. He uses everything in our lives as a part of His shaping and forming process, so that we can fulfill His purpose for us. For each of us that is unique, and for all of us it is the same. What I mean is, He molds us into a vessel of honor as He prepares and uses us to fulfill our unique role in His Kingdom. He molds us into the image of His Son, so that we can all become more and more like Jesus until we arrive at our ultimate destination to spend eternity with Him. We will never understand how to fully pursue our purpose without understanding that simple truth.
And yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand.
The prophet Isaiah cried out on behalf of the people of Israel to confess their sins and seek mercy and grace from God who loves them. In the midst of his plea, the prophet acknowledges the thing that they need most...God's recreative work to be displayed in them. As the Master Potter, God will shape our lives to make them beautiful pieces of art that are useful in a world that needs our beauty and light. Like those fireflies glowing in the mason jar. We become vessels filled with His light to shine brightly in this world.
How is/has God used a particular season in your life to shape you for His purpose? What have you learned in certain seasons of life that had equipped you well in your journey with Christ? What season do you find yourself in right now and how do you believe God is going to use it? Let's get a conversation going and share your thoughts in the comments.
3/22/2021 05:23:58 pm
Thanks, Erica, for your comment! Isn't it amazing how God uses the various seasons to work in and through our lives? As you have aptly pointed out, our experiences may manifest themselves in different ways in various seasons...just as Jasman is with his "piloting" others toward the Father!
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With over forty years of ministry experience, Randy Kinnick continues to live a life of pursuing the purpose for which he was created. Whether teaching God's Word to adults, coaching youth and young adults in finding their purpose, or caring for the hurting and abused in Southeast Asia, the adventure has taken him around the world in ways he could have never dreamed. The adventure continues!