Monday, November 05, 2007

Expanded Ecclesiastes

I wanted to add to the previous post on Timekeepers, but frankly I just ran out of time. I love the verses from Ecclesiastes 3. Becky Freeman in her book Chocolate Chili Pepper Love wrote expanded verses to each of the Ecclesiastes verses. I thought you would enjoy it.

A Time to be born...A season of Eden-like love--the idealized, wonderfully romantic time when our affections for each other are as fresh as a newborn baby.

And a time to die...There also comes a time to die to our unrealistic fantasies, such as having, or being, the perfect mate. This necessary loss that author Judith Viorst described has to occur before mature love can begin.

A time to plant...Then just as the young family gets settled, a notice arrives, signaling it's time to start all over. Move, start a new job, face new challenges. Yet, these times of uprooting and re-settling can even be adventurous, producing a "you and me against the world" kind of feeling in a marriage.

A time to kill...No, not each other. (though there may be times we're tempted) There comes a season of reflection when we ask God to destroy sinful patterns that have crept into our marriages. Proverbs 27:17 says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." One reason God places us together is to unveil each other's blind spots--self defeating and harmful ways of reacting. This season is perhaps the most painful of all--it gets awfully hot when iron is at the task of sharpening iron.

A time to heal...After having gone through the refining fire of brokeness, couples need a season of healing, a time to cool off and comfort one another. Think of it as becoming each other's aloe vera.

A time to tear down...Occasionally, Scott has had to help me tear down a wall of pride or self importance. This guy who knows me best calls me on those pesky, subtle sins that others let me get away with. A time to build...On the other hand, when my selfesteem has been bruised by the world, my husband is the one I want at my side to make it all better again. He builds me up.

A time to weep...I'm not sure a couple can fully understand the concept of "becoming one" until they've wept together in a time of deep sorrow.

A time to laugh...It also helps becoming one to laugh so hard they fall off the bed and onto the floor together. A time to mourn...During those days of numbing sadness, after the weeping, the best gift yo have to offer each other is a hand to hold and a shoulder to lean on.

A time to dance...These are the seasons of festivity, when the pleasure of being old people in love bubbles up and overflows--when a husband spontaneously invites his wife into his arms for a spin around the kitchen floor, just for the fun of it.

A time to embrace...I'm looking at a black and white picture of a man swirling a woman around in the kind of embrace you see in old movies, usually at train stations. These are the Home-Sweet-Home times; moments of reuniting at the end of an absence or simply at the end of a long day.

A time to refrain from embracing...This can be a healthy and necessary part of growing in love. Not only do we need times of solitude for personal reflection, but it's often in the lonely times that God reminds us why we need each other after all.

A time to keep...There are special moments in marriage we want to freeze in time, to treasure in the memory bank of our mind--births of our children, anniversaries, walks by the sea. A time to throw away...Then there are those memories we need to toss. We all have to periodically toss the garbage of grudges into the bin of forgiveness.

A time to be silent...That's right--silent. We forgo our own agenda to focus on our mate--listening without judgement, without hurrying, listening below the surface of words for the feelings underneath. Giving our spouses focused attention is a rare and precious treasure.

A time to speak...Then comes the time to speak up. Yes, sometimes we have to speak in confrontation. But more often may it be "I love you," "I'm sorry," or "You're precious to me" that leaves our lips and enters nto our loved one's ears.

A time for war...Fights and disagreements will come, so we don't need to be terrified when they happen. Though painful, an argument can clear the air and allow for a new start. To disagree and argue are parts of what it means to be a human being.

A time for peace...Would we really appreciate peacetime if we'd not survived a few marital battles? I love the delicious relief, the joy of everything being okay between us again. Ah...peace--a season to savor.

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