Glory of the Seasons
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Eccl. 3:1).
At the risk of making the understatement of the year, I still must say that heaven surely will be beyond anyone’s wildest imagination. John’s Revelation on the isle of Patmos surely does put our minds’ limited resources to the test. But even the simple things of life cause us to reflect on God’s love for things beautiful and wonderful. Each season of the year gives occasion to remark on some particular characteristic unique to it alone. Here in Tennessee the fall’s distinct blending of green, yellow, orange and red colors signals another year rapidly coming to an end.
It reminds me of the great work in which our Lord has called us to do our best. And while our best is frequently not enough in view of the titanic task before us, every turn of the season does yield fruit. Every year at the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Ukraine we work with a new group of students who bring a unique blend of personality and “color” to the classroom. In the two short years they are with us, we observe in our students only a sample of the latent character and personality that will somehow shape the future. As seamlessly as the fall colors blend into each other, these students affect the lives of those with whom they come into contact—as all people do, good or bad. Obviously, “time and chance happens to them all” (Eccl. 9:11), but the difference is the Christ they bring along for the journey! And what a grand journey that is!
As I look back on my own life’s journey—and it hasn’t been anything more extraordinary than others who have followed a similar course, yet I wouldn’t trade it for a thousand lives of the most notable pagans and other noteworthy non-believers. With more challenges and opportunities before us, more advances in technology and communication, and more insight into human nature due to an ever-increasing historical anthropology, the gospel of Jesus Christ has a greater occasion to touch the darkened existence of men and women who have grown weary of living hollow and empty lives with no long-term hope of anything better.
And our students have been given more than a chance to become part of something larger than themselves—in fact, something that will outlive this world—they have been given an opportunity to own something that will outlast this world, as well as to be owned by Someone who will outlast this world. So says the great Apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 3:21-23, “Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.”
Surely that is a contagious concept! One might remain temporarily numb to the cry of a neglected soul; but the more quickly time slips away leaving its trademark lines on your face, the more the soul longs to belong to the One who is unaffected by the passing of the seasons. The throbbing, jolting, even raw stab of life’s oft-painful reality is capable—even cruelly at helping people see life for its intended purpose: to guide mankind to glorify God, Who alone can give him what his soul can’t live without—eternal life! These are the same spiritual sensitivities that long ago conquered the Empire of Rome and its pagan trappings.
The training our students receive at BVBIU is designed to help lost souls find their heart’s spiritual peace through the wisdom of God. The Apostle Paul explains how this occurs: “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God --- and righteousness and sanctification and redemption --- that, as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the LORD’” (1 Cor. 1:27-31).
Our extension schools do not create riches. They do not entertain the masses with anecdotes. They do not train philosophers or silver-tongued orators. Rather, they make an attempt to bring glory to God through the salvation which is in Jesus Christ. Man is so fallen, so hopelessly lost, so inadequate to deserve the slightest mercy, so spiritually bankrupt that he has nothing in the flesh to glory in. And as hard as it is sometimes to understand, God requires us (as a duty) to do things that seem so foolish, so weak, so unfitting to show us that the power is of God and not us. By fulfilling our duty before God, we show ourselves and the world around us that our glorying is in God the Giver of all that is good. If it is believed that the thing created may give one happiness and a deep sense of joy and satisfaction, how much more so the Designer and Creator of that thing? Every generation struggles with these spiritual ideals. It is always the flesh battling with the spirit. The flesh easily blinds the worldly-minded. The Spirit gives light to those who desire to see—those open to the Spirit’s teachings. These give glory to God. Howell