Wendy Simonson | The Voice of Zion November 2022 --
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. – Ecclesiastes 3:1
Consider the geese as they begin their fall journey to open water and warmer climates. There is something impressive and compelling about these large birds as they settle on Saskatchewan sloughs and lakes in the thousands, in search of food to sustain them on the long flights they will soon undertake.
I stop my car to watch. As the geese rise from the water, the sound of beating wings, rushing air and honking voices surrounds my car and unfolds onto the open prairie. I have observed this migration year after year, a stunning reminder of the cycle of seasons and of life. It is only one example of the wonders of God’s creation plan to which our Bible verse alludes.
As the geese prepare for winter, they follow their instincts and the migration route of generations of geese before them. In a similar way, believers follow the “old paths” that generations of believers before travelled, right since biblical times.
According to His Plan
The lives of most of us will follow a cyclical pattern through birth, childhood, adulthood, old age, and ending in death. These concepts of earth and life cycles are illustrated also by the words of the preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem, in Ecclesiastes 1: “What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh, but the earth abideth for ever. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose. The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again” (v. 3–7).
These cycles of life, bird migration, and the recurrent patterns of nature’s elements bring a sense of familiarity and comfort. They demonstrate God’s power and guidance throughout the ages, with earth’s events unfolding, as He wills. This passage also reminds us not to overvalue earthly things; we will eventually leave this world, and all will be left behind. Our goal is to reach heaven where these earthly things will not go.
Through Obstacles and Trials
As we travel through life’s seasons, we confront obstacles, just as migratory birds do. They suffer hunger, strong winds and storms, predators, disease and even death as they make their long journey. We can compare this to our own lives, where we meet with the challenges that life brings to each one of us. These can be temporal, such as caring for large families, facing illness, or losing a job. They can also be spiritual challenges, where the storms of life threaten to knock us from our foundation of faith. We remember one Bible traveler, Job, who was “perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil” (Job 1:1). Despite this, Job experienced a set of trials that is difficult to comprehend. How might we react in the same situation?
The Bible tells us how Satan had come before God, saying, “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” (Job 1:8). Satan told God that He had protected Job and blessed the work of his hands, “but put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face” (Job 1:11). God then allowed Satan power over all Job had, instructing him only not to put his hand on Job himself. Job went through a series of heavy trials over the course of one day, losing his livestock, servants and children. After these events, Job yet trusted God: “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. In all this, Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (Job 1:21,22).
There is powerful instruction for us in reading about Job’s life and how he remained obedient to God. Even through extreme trials, he continued to trust that God would take care of him.
Trust in God’s Guidance
All of us in our lifetime will witness the end of the life cycle, as we experience the death of loved ones. As I write, I contemplate news of a childhood friend’s death, and the second verse in this Bible chapter of Ecclesiastes, “A time to be born and a time to die” comes to mind. Everything unfolds according to God’s good and perfect plan, including birth and death. We do not understand God’s ways, but in time, we may come to see how He has indeed directed and guided the path of each life.
In reflecting on a death of someone near us, we face the crucial factor of life: reaching heaven when we die. Through death, we are reminded that this is our goal. We want to continue to hold faith precious and pray for that outcome at the end of our life.
God teaches us through His Word. It is important for each one of us to follow the path God has laid out for us, trusting in His guiding hand in our lives and believing our sins forgiven. As he guides even the birds, how much more will He guide His created people? We can trust in His promises.