by Michael E. Brooks
“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NKJV).
I often ask George, the head cook at Khulna Bible College, for a particular fruit or vegetable only to hear his response, “Now is not the season for that.” Though there are some imported foods, they are expensive compared to those locally produced, and the common people rarely eat them. If it is mango season in south Bangladesh they eat mangos. If not, they wait.
In the societies of instant gratification and global economy, that attitude is rare. We want what we want, immediately. I was amused some time ago when I heard a child pray that God send her friend back to see her “Right Now!” We don’t want to wait. We demand quick satisfaction, regardless of cost. If there are strawberries in California in February, we eat strawberries then in Alabama. It does not matter that we won’t be able to pick our own for three more months.
Yet some things cannot be obtained right now, no matter how badly we want them or how much we are willing to spend. A seriously ill patient wants to feel better, but it will take time. A grieving parent needs comfort, but it simply cannot come quickly. Like the child that says, “I can’t wait for Christmas,” we learn that “yes we can,” and we must. Some things happen only at their own pace. Nothing we can do will change it. This is the value of patience. We must learn to “wait upon the Lord” for those blessings.
There is another aspect to this reality. When it is time for that special fruit, one must eat it, or lose another season. Opportunities come, but they do not remain indefinitely. If they are refused, neglected or squandered, the prize is lost. The Hebrew writer says, “But exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13). Paul adds, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15,16). Among other things, both these passages teach us to make the best possible use of our time and opportunity. If one misses a chance to encourage another’s faith, that person may be tempted, hardened, and lost before another opportunity comes. Left to idle passing, the days are “evil”; that is they are prone to be used sinfully. The Christian should take every day as a gift of God, to be used purposefully and well.
There is one final point we can make from the above ideas. The students at KBC begin eating guava, mango, and papaya as soon as they ripen enough to be palatable. Every fruit has its “peak” season, the time when it is most flavorful. Yet if one waits for that peak, he will not be able to eat many mangoes. To enjoy the season to its fullest, one begins when it first comes in, and continues so long as there is fruit left on the tree. This also applies to the Christian life. Not everything we do will be of equal enjoyment or benefit. Some experiences lack the excitement and pleasure of others. Some good deeds will not be as effectual as others. But if we do not do them when we can, we lose part of the total, which we will otherwise accomplish.
by Michael E. Brooks