Tuesday, 15 December 2015

A must read....... A Time for Everything: Making the Most of the Seasons of Life.

Hello BOB family, how is everyone doing?
 I recently gave a talk at a Master's graduate class, Unilag. I feel it is worth sharing with you all because 'making most of the seasons of life' is highly important.
Please read, learn and enjoy.........

“To everything there is A season,
A time for every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to reap;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break 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 cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time for war, and a time for peace. “  Arnold Simon

We all have a quest for living a happy life. This quest brings a variety of things as offers to us every day so as to help us find the secret of successful living. It amazes me how magazine articles by the dozens tell us how to cope with various problems; TV commercials, shows, seminars etc. bombard us, telling us how to be successful in life, or at least how to look successful even if we really are not. Health clubs offer us saunas or health tips to relax us so we can face life with poise; while various kinds of drugs are available to turn us on, turn us off, take us out, or whatever we want.
All these are evidences of the universal search for the secret of enjoyment of life. Billions of dollars or nairas are spent every day on this quest of successful living. That is the very quest that the book of Ecclesiastes tells us about. The greatest experiment ever performed in the history of mankind to test the various approaches to success, enjoyment or contentment in life is recorded in this 3,000 year old book.

Let’s briefly take a look at what the book tells us about time one after the other.
The first 8 verses of Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 have in it all we need to know about time and the seasons of life. If you look carefully you will see that these eight opening verses gather around three major divisions which correspond, amazingly enough, to the divisions of our humanity:

a.       body,

b.       soul, and

c.       spirit.
The first four pairs deal with the body (verse 1-3):
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up.
Next is the realm of the soul, with its functions of thinking, feeling and choosing, the social areas, and all the interrelationships of life that flow from that. Verse 4:

...a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
...a time to mourn, and a time to dance. (Ecclesiastes 3:4)

All these things follow closely, and they are all appropriate. No one is going to escape the hurts and sorrows of life. That is what this verse is saying here. God chose them for us.
The last six of these opposites relate to the spirit, to the inner decisions, the deep commitments. There is "a time to seek [work, marriage, new friends], and a time to lose,” There comes a time in life when we should curtail certain friendships, or change our jobs, for instance, and lose what we had in the past. It is proper and appropriate that these times should come.
There is "a time to keep and a time to cast away”. There are values and standards which must never be surrendered, while there are other times when we need to throw away things -- clean out the wardrobe, our drawers, throw away the old clothes, etc. This is true of habits and attitudes at times. Resentments need to be thrown away. Grudges and long-standing hurts need to be forgiven and forgotten.

There is "a time to keep silence, and a time to speak” There are times when we know something, a piece of gossip, and we should not say it; we ought not to speak. There are times when we ought to speak, when something we are keeping secret would deliver someone or bring truth into a situation; a time to speak up.
There is "a time to love, and a time to hate” When is it time to hate? Think of young Abraham Lincoln the first time he saw human beings sold on the slave blocks in New Orleans. He felt hatred rising in his heart. He resolved that if he ever got a chance to smash slavery he would do so. Lincoln's hatred of slavery was perfectly appropriate. There is "a time to love," when it is right that we should extend our love to somebody who is hurting, someone who is feeling dejected or rejected, lonely or weak.

There is "a time for war, and a time for peace," (Ecclesiastes 3:8b RSV). We ought to remember this as we consider some of the issues before us today. When tyranny rides roughshod over the rights of men there is a time when a nation properly makes war. But there is a time when war is absolutely the wrong thing, when no provocation should be allowed to start one because war can explode into violence far beyond anything demanded by a particular situation. How much is permitted in that regard is a perfectly unresolved subject, one that is being widely debated today.

The changes in seasons of life can sometimes catch us unawares. Sometimes life throws that curve ball and you have the wind knocked out of you. For example when a relationship becomes strained, when illness robs your days, when your stomach churns with the stress of unpaid bills/school fees, when the unexpected happens what do you do? Careful living requires “making the most of every opportunity” In other words, we should make the most of the season of life we find ourselves in right now. Imagine the bad situations of life as being in the tunnel…. At the end of it, what happens? You see the light (not that of a coming train though).
We are all supposed to relax and enjoy life because it comes in phases. That’s what Ecclesiastes tried to explain to us but instead, children want to grow up, singles want to marry, couples want kids, and the aged miss the good old days. In each season of life we tend to yearn for the blessings of other seasons—both future and past—and we miss the opportunities of today.
Imagine this was your last Christmas. What would you do? Would you go to all houses in your neighbourhood bearing gifts? Would you enjoy spending all the holiday with your family? Would it make a difference if you knew this was your last Christmas? You bet it would.

Take the same attitude toward the seasons of life. In what season do you find yourself now? A mother of young children? A single father? A mature single woman waiting for love to find her? Or a busy parent? Note that when time with your children passes, it never returns. Once the chance lapses to serve God as a single, it may not come again.

Perhaps you must admit to some wasted years. I know I can. But we can begin to walk wisely this incoming year. God gives time as a gift—a gift we should use to the fullest. But remember, just like when you purchase goods in a store where you have been warned that you can get no refunds later, last year gives no refunds. Love those who love you and even those who don’t (your enemies). Know also that everyone you come across is in your life for a reason. Live a life today that will speak volumes for you in the future. Also whatever you find doing, please do it well; with all your heart and mind.  Don’t let the storms you face today slow you down in your pursuit of happiness. Also, time waits for no man therefore, reduce the amount of time you spend on frivolities. Redeem your time! Make hay while the sun shines.
Another thing is that we all need to develop the habit of having a plan. There is no harm in drafting a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly schedule for ourselves. No matter how life tries to change it, we have a guide that helps us to come back in track.

I want to emphasise again that it is important that you make the most of this time that you do have.  Try every possible best to create a balance between that career, job, ministry, belief, religion and your family. Life is precious. And it is short. And eternity is long. Make the most of the NOW.
Vince Foster, deputy counsel to President Clinton, spoke to the 1993 graduating class of Arkansas University School of Law only six weeks before his death. His words now echo from somewhere in eternity. A portion of what Mr. Foster said to several hundred young lawyers on that historic day:

"You have amply demonstrated that you are achievers willing to work hard, long hours and set aside your personal lives. But it reminds me of that observation that no one was ever heard to say on a death bed, ‘I wish I had spent more time at the office.' Balance wisely your professional life and your family life.
If you are fortunate to have children, your parents will warn you that your children will grow up and be gone before you know it. I know that is true.

"God only allows us so many opportunities with our children to read a story, play catch and say our prayers together. Try not to miss any one of them. The office can wait. It will still be there after your children are gone."
My final words are that we should endeavour to live a beautiful life worthy of emulation. Yes, change is the only constant thing in life but how well we handle that change determines the value of life we live. Know that all the seasons of life come and go but whatever we do with it remains fresh in the memory of the people we leave behind, long after we are gone!

Merry Christmas and a Happy 2016 in advance.

Loads of love.
Bukola Oyetunji


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