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By Denise Glenn
1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: 2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
Life is like a library, and each season in life is like a separate book. You take down each “book” or each “season” and learn what you need from it, and when that season has past, you put the “book” back on the shelf until you need it again. Throughout your life, you’ll be checking out one “book,” then another. Some of the seasons are comedies; others are tragedies. But all of them can teach us. Sometimes you’ll check out more than one “book” at a time, experiencing multiple seasons at the same time, and that’s when life is complicated. For example, you might be welcoming the birth of a grandchild at the same time your parents are dying. But we can learn from each season how to walk with wisdom, knowledge, grace, and eventually JOY. You’ll experience times of Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter in your life and God will hold your hand and take you through each one.
In June 2015, I was plunged into a Winter Season in the span of a five-minute phone call. My 90-year-old mother had a medical crisis, and she and my sister were heading to the emergency room. Death was certain without surgery; but even with it, the doctors weren’t sure she would survive. Up to this point, my elderly parents were both living and in good health—they lived on their own at home, and my father was still exercising at his gym five days a week! But that one phone call changed everything. Suddenly, my three sisters and I were facing the possibility of losing our mother, who also happened to be the caretaker of my father, whose memory and mental function were fading.
By God’s grace, my mother lived through the surgery that spared her, but life was never the same again. That one phone call began a five-year journey that included her recovering at a rehabilitation-nursing home, moving our dad into the same place to be with her, and taking on the total responsibility of their care (financial, physical, emotional and mental). During that time, we also sold the house they’d lived in for 40 years and finally said goodbye to them 13 months apart when God took them to His heavenly home. I just said in one paragraph what took me to the darkest place I’d ever been.
For me, the Winter Season has been a time of grief and loss, of feeling my world as I knew it turned upside down. But it’s not like life came to a stop so that I could deal with all of the heavy things on my heart. I’m blessed to live near my three daughters, their husbands and our 10 grandchildren, which means I was trying to balance being present in their lives, continuing to speak and travel with Kardo Ministries and helping take care of my ailing parents who lived a four-hour drive away. It was a lot.
I’ve just begun to come out of the fog of those years, and I can say that I learned so much from this time. I want to share some good news with you that joy is possible on the other side and even in the midst of your Winter Season. Your Winter Season might look very different from mine, but going through challenging circumstances happens to everyone. Winter Season might be brought on by a sudden change like a new job or a new baby, a job loss or retirement, a season with a prodigal child or elderly parents. A death or divorce, a sudden devastating illness, or a sin that destroys a life and all the people around them all can send you into the Winter Season. Of course, the pandemic sent us all hurdling into a Winter Season. However it begins, it is a season that is especially hard for you, and you need answers.
What we need for the Winter Season is wisdom to get through the rough patches into a place of stability and security. We need answers to life’s big questions. We want to understand when life’s not fair, when the good guy doesn’t win. We long for God to speak to us when we’re broken-hearted, disillusioned, grieving and torn. What do the wise men say about our situation? What we need in the Winter Season is the book of Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes is a book that faces harsh reality, raw emotion and deep truth head on. I don’t know about you, but that’s exactly what I need.
With his brilliant mind, Solomon, the author of Ecclesiastes, openly and honestly searched out the meaning of life. He has drawn a line on the horizon and tests life below it. He is the scientist who has examined life apart from God, faith, and the supernatural; and he also observes life God’s way. Solomon, perhaps the only person who ever lived who was able to experience ALL that life has to offer “under the sun,” can tell us with accuracy which way works best. He tried money (billions) and pleasure (700 wives and 300 concubines!) and work (He built the most important building in the world—the Temple) and explored science, philosophy, and psychology to find the ultimate meaning of life. Then, he turned around to tell us that after all he’s experienced, he now knows the best way to spend our lives; and he knows what to avoid. He’s travelled down the road of life ahead of us and gives us a shockingly simple solution that is beautifully complex at the same time.
Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14.
13The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
Here is the “end of the matter.” This is what we have been waiting for…THE ultimate purpose and THE secret to a truly successful life as we travel through each season. “Fear God and keep his commandments.” Boom! There it is. The answer to life for anyone in any culture living through any season.
First, Solomon tells us to “fear God.” This “fear” is not to cower before Him, but is a reverent submission, embracing the truth that God is God and we are not. It’s bowing the knee, bowing the heart before God in awe of who He is. It is to take seriously the sovereignty of Almighty God. In every season of life, you’ll be challenged to trust God completely without reservation and to surrender to Him.
The second part of the secret of life is to keep God’s commandments. When you’re struggling through a particularly hard season, the way to find your bearings and get back on track is to simply obey God’s instructions. His Word is clear. You have it written on your heart and in your printed or digital copy of the Bible. Simply read and it obey. But there is even more to weathering the seasons beautifully than even Solomon knew.
A Jewish boy like Solomon, the son of a king of Israel, would have been taught the commandments of God given to Moses in his forty days on Mt. Sinai. He would have memorized the Ten Commandments and would have been schooled in the law as written in the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch. We have to remember that he was an Old Testament man living under the Old Covenant of the law, and at that time, those laws were the only path for coming into the covenant promises of God. It’s understandable that his exhortation at the end of his book is to tell us to keep the law. But we have the rest of the story.
Both Solomon and Jesus tell us the secret to life, but instead of the law, Jesus brings grace. Where Solomon concluded that the best we can do is to, “Fear God,” Jesus said, “LOVE the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Where Solomon said, “Keep His commandments,” Jesus’ message took us beyond obedience to love. In John 14:15, He said “if you LOVE Me, keep My commandments.” He summarized the Old Testament commandments by telling us it’s not about our behavior; it’s all about relationship. The commandment is to LOVE the Lord our God and love our neighbor as ourself. Solomon takes us in the right direction, but Jesus leads us home.
I John 4:16-18.
16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is, so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.
-Excerpts from Winter Season, by Denise Glenn, published by Kardo Ministries, www.kardo.org
Denise Glenn is a mother, grandmother, author, speaker, and the founder of MotherWise. Together she and her husband, David, now serve as President and Vice President of Kardo Ministries, a non-profit international discipleship ministry. Denise began the MotherWise ministry in 1981 when she had three preschoolers.
From a prayer time with one other mom, this ministry has grown to include women from all across America and around the world. Denise has authored six Bible studies for women that include Wisdom for Mothers, Freedom for Mothers, Restore My Heart, Keeping the Secrets of Jesus, Fan the Flame and her just released Winter Season. There are over 20 translations of Denise‘s Bible studies, notably in Korean, Russian, Spanish, Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese, Swahili, Polish, and many other languages where women are studying God’s Word in their heart languages.
Using her own personal experiences ranging from infertility to three teenage daughters to married children and now grandchildren; Denise blends her warm personality with an ability to clearly define Biblical truths. Her entertaining speaking style and creative use of visual aids endears her to women and allows her to share personal stories to teach women about God’s Word.
Combining deep spiritual insight with the ability to relate practically to each woman in her audience, her written materials are in-depth Bible studies, composed in a way that Bible students of every level can enjoy learning and growing in Christ.
In the summer of 2003, Denise and David made an international move to Indonesia with David’s job as a geophysicist. Staying for two fruitful years, planting MotherWise and FatherWise, Indonesia continues to remain one of Kardo’s anchors to the nations in Southeast Asia. Following a two-year furlough in the USA, David and Denise were called again to another international move to Perth, Australia, where God opened doors of ministry opportunities not only in Australia, but also New Zealand, and throughout Asia. The Glenns now live in Houston, Texas.
The Glenn’s have a passion for sharing God’s Word and travel internationally while balancing their time with their first ministry, three beautiful married daughters and ten lovely grandchildren.
Kardo is the home of MotherWise and FatherWise…and it is much more. Kardo offers Bible study resources, leadership training, guides, curriculum, and conferences in 26 countries for Christian men and women who are looking for biblical instruction and advice on total commitment to Christ in marriage, parenting, work, ministry, finances, prayer, fasting, worship, and the love of Christ for His Bride.