The wise see the hand of God in their best seasons; they also see their best seasons in the hand of God. “My times are in your hand,” the psalmist says (Psalm 31:15). And if our times are in God’s hand — his good, wise, kind hand — then we don’t need to try to keep them in ours.
“You are living the best days of your life.”
The comment caught my wife off guard. She was carting our two young boys toward the grocery-store checkout when an older woman ventured the prophecy. The woman spoke from experience, as a mother whose own cart had once held little ones. Perhaps she saw in my wife a past version of herself. Perhaps our boys brought back dear memories. Either way, she felt stirred to speak from hindsight: “You are living the best days of your life.”
My wife and I feel the truth of her words. Even amid the chaos of these little years, we often catch glimpses of what life will be like when our home no longer hears the patter of little feet or the laughter of little voices. We won’t be surprised if we look back on these years — these wild, exhausting, wonderful years — as the sweetest of our lives. We also won’t be surprised if they leave sooner than we’d like.
Moments like this one in the grocery store have left me wondering how to live through precious days you know will pass away. How, as Christians, should we watch children grow, tables empty, friendships fade, faces wrinkle?
Every Good Season Will End
In a world of change and decay, good gifts are fleeting by nature. Kids get big and hair turns gray. Honeymoons pass and anniversaries add up. Good ministries end and new beginnings quickly become old. These facts are so obvious, so unavoidable, that you’d think we’d be more ready for them.
But something in us — something in me — tries to deny the obvious and outrun the unavoidable. We, of course, have developed a dozen ways and more we try to dam the River Time. Some take pictures: many pictures, beautiful pictures, pictures to freeze and frame our happiness. Some try to choreograph moments meant to be enjoyed, not arranged. Some become relationally clingy. Some treat their children as if they were several years younger than they are. I sometimes find myself attempting to extend moments longer than they should go, like a man who keeps shouting “Encore!” after the band has gone home.
Such impulses often come from a kind of anticipated nostalgia, an awareness of present gifts we can’t bear to imagine as past, as gone. So we hold a net over our brightest days, trying to catch the butterfly of lasting joy in the fields of time. But the holes are always too big. No matter how much we try, we cannot seize good seasons from the vanity of our Ecclesiastes world, where “there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten” (Ecclesiastes 2:16).
No, we cannot stop the breezes that carry away our best moments. But we can learn to live more wisely in the wind.
The Hand That Holds Our Seasons
The brevity of beautiful seasons can seem like a kind of cruelty. And in some ways, of course, our losses do remind us of our fallen lot, that we dwell in a land where good things die. Our seasons, like our selves, go from dust to dust, the casualties of a sin-cursed world, subjected to futility (Romans 8:20). But for God’s people, Scripture would have us see our passing seasons differently. Ultimately, time does not take our best days from us; God does (Job 1:21). And therefore, wisdom comes from seeing the hand that holds our seasons.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven,” the Preacher tells us (Ecclesiastes 3:1). And God is the one who has made it so.