Falling Into the New

by Marcia Clarke

In everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under the heavens. Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV

Every May, graduates toss up their hats to what lies ahead: the rest of their lives. My students work tirelessly on their art while in school, giving no consideration to the gift they would someday give to the world. Now, all that hard work and diligence will accelerate them into a new beginning. What a joy they must feel, knowing that this new phase of their lives brings new opportunities, independence, and a sense of freedom.

There’s nothing like a new beginning.

The same is said for those still in school who are moving a door away from their current classroom to the next instructor and level. Even these small transitions are a gateway, a time in which most students can feel a sense of accomplishment in their progress by taking the next step in their learning.

As a teacher, I see new beginnings at all levels. A student learning how to paint within the lines during an art activity, a student who started out writing the number five backward to knowing how to write it in the correct format, and finally at graduation, when I let go of the old students to welcome the new.

Each morning when we arise is a new beginning. The leaves changing in the fall signal a start of a new season. Life is a series of new beginnings. Each one is a time of growth and change.

When God called Abraham to move to a new country (Genesis 12:1-3), he had to leave his security, his people, and his father’s house. I imagine he may have had other plans for his family. A new beginning was probably not at the top of his list. Abraham was not alone; his entire family had to experience the change. But it was worth the cost, so Abraham did what he needed to do for God to fulfill his purpose and the promise.

New beginnings lead us forward to fulfill our lifelong purpose. Moses fled Egypt, became a fugitive, but was later crowned leader (Exodus 2:11-25). After Paul’s experience on the road to Damascus, meeting Jesus and receiving God’s call, his life completely changed as he stopped murdering Christians and started ministering to them (Acts 9). Peter was given the chance to start over after his denial when he met Jesus on the beach (John 21). He went from shame to purpose, when he obeyed Jesus’ command to take care of his sheep. It was a chance to start over.

How amazing it is when those breakthrough moments provide a new beginning.

“In everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV). Seasons come and go. Some may turn out well while others are a struggle. But never forget that in the Bible, in every new beginning, God was with his people. No matter what chapter we are in, God remains with us. He is “the Alpha and the Omega…the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:13 NASB).

Wherever you are in this season of change, look ahead, there is a beautiful rainbow that signals hope: when God is involved, every chapter of your life holds great things.

Father, thank you for charting my life’s course and showing me the way to the purpose and the promise you have in mind. Let those who are destined in their accomplishments not become weary but continue to walk out the race with vigor and your strength, and live a life of purpose in Jesus’ name. Amen.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Marcia Clarke writes daily encouragement for meditation and spiritual enrichment. Her greatest passion is helping people through difficult seasons by writing practical devotions at her daily blog, Today Is Sacred. She is the author of Journey to Abundance and her latest prayer book, Thirty Days of Grace.

Join the conversation: Have you experienced a new beginning lately?

Advertisement

Consider the Clock

by Nan Corbitt Allen

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV

We have a clock. Well, we used to have a clock in our bedroom. It was lovely and decorative, perfect for a blank space on our wall. However, for as long as I can remember, that clock could not keep good time. It seemed to always be 10 minutes fast. We tried fixing that by resetting it to the correct time, changing the battery, and then setting it ten minutes before the actual time to compensate—to no avail. It still displayed the wrong time. We don’t know if the clock was defective, or if we had not set it properly. Either way, to us, the clock was not living up to its original purpose—to show us the correct time.

I can relate to that. I sometimes feel like I don’t know my purpose, or that maybe I never even had one. I mean, at least a clock has a definite reason to exist. It says so right on its face. So, what about me?

According to the creation story in Genesis 1, Man was created to be fruitful and multiply, to take care of the rest of creation, to cultivate the ground (Gen. 2:5), and to name the animals (Gen. 2:19-20). Woman was created to rule alongside Adam in his dominion over the earth (Gen. 1:28).

But we can’t leave the search for our purpose there in the book of Genesis, can we? Obviously, humankind is more than gardeners and procreators.

I think a lot of people believe that “purpose” is a career path—doctor, lawyer, pastor, teacher. Purpose might include jobs and relationships (marriage and children). But is that all it is?

Mark Twain said, “The two most important days in your life is when you’re born and the day you find out why.” I think that is clever, but I also think it’s incomplete. I don’t believe that one day we wake up with an epiphany as to why we were created, and from that moment on our path is set.

I truly believe our purpose in life is not so much a destination but a journey. This is not an original thought; I think Ralph Waldo Emerson said it first. If this is true, then our purpose on earth is “a moveable feast” (thank you, Mr. Hemingway). And that makes it hard to nail down just one purpose. Unlike the clock, we are changing and growing and learning. Shouldn’t our purpose change, too?

Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?” is a book I’ve read before, but I went back to read it again. It both convicted me and convinced me that I have it all wrong. Warren bases the book around five purposes regarding God’s plan for each of us. Essentially these are: 1) to bring God pleasure; 2) to be a part of God’s family; 3) to become Christ-like; 4) to be shaped into God’s service; 5) to complete a unique mission given to each one of us. Using these as guides, it doesn’t matter what my vocation or hobby or daily pursuit is; my purpose can be lived out in whatever direction I go.

My direction may vary, but my purpose does not. Purpose is not what I do, but who I am. And who I am will determine what I do. If who I am is a clock, then I will keep correct time. But as a creation of the Almighty One, my life (according to Rick Warren again) is a test, a trust, and temporary—a dress rehearsal for eternity.

It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Ephesians 1:11 MSG

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

Nan Corbitt Allen

About the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 45+ years. A three-time Dove Award winner, Nan’s lyrics and dramas have been performed around the world. Dennis and Nan have sold almost 3 million choral books. Nan and Dennis retired in 2020 from full time teaching at Truett McConnell University. They now live south of Nashville. They have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image.jpeg

Nan’s book, Small Potatoes @ the Piggly Wiggly, is a collection of devotionals that reveal the great impact seemingly insignificant, routine experiences can have in our lives. She describes what she learned of God’s providence and wisdom while growing up in the Deep South in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Join the conversation: Which of the purposes listed above is most important to you?

He’s Got This

by Nan Corbitt Allen

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Just a few days ago, for almost a week, we were SNOWED in. As I write this, the temperature outside is a balmy 70.

I recently saw a funny meme about our unpredictable weather here in Tennessee. It said our region actually has 12 seasons. They are, or so it says:

  1. Winter
  2. Fool’s Spring
  3. Second Winter
  4. Spring of Deception (where we are now)
  5. Third Winter
  6. The Pollening
  7. Actual Spring
  8. Summer
  9. Hell’s Front Porch
  10. False Fall
  11. Second Summer
  12. Actual Fall

This is supposed to be a lighthearted jab at our present condition, of course, but it speaks more to me than that. It’s a message on the unpredictability of things, such as weather and seasons, life and death, day and night—events that only God can control.

There is a lot of discussion these days about climate change and how we, as humans, have caused it. I don’t believe that we have been good stewards as we were instructed. Of course, we need to take care of the planet. In the beginning of Genesis, God declares that humans were put in a perfect environment, and charged with the task of maintaining it—of caring for it. Being aware of our responsibility to our Creator and His handiwork, I believe, is important. But I also believe that in taking this responsibility more seriously of late, we’ve forgotten Who made it and Who sustains it. And we somehow start to believe that we are the only ones who can fix it.

Several verses in Psalm 104 portray Creator and His creation in a beautiful poetic way. This speaks to the title “He’s Got This.”

“He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved. He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
it flows between the mountains…He made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down…All creatures look to you to give them their food at the proper time. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things” (Psalm 104:5-6, 19, 27-28 NIV).

Benjamin Franklin, one of our Founding Fathers, grew up in a strict Calvinist family. However, he became a confirmed deist in adulthood. A deist believes that God created the universe, but that He left it to its own devices. In other words, He spoke us into being, spun us into orbit, and let us go. There’s no need to pray since God isn’t listening.

Scripture doesn’t support this idea.

Paul explained the work of the Trinity in Colossians: all parts of that entity, Father, Son, Holy Spirit are actually One—Him. He writes: “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17 NIV).

In this time of uncertainty and perhaps feelings of impending doom—the virus, the weather, the unsavory events in politics—remember that God, Who made it all, is still in control of it all.

Daniel, of lion’s den fame, wrote this about the providential care of God:

“He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding;
 he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness,
 and the light dwells with him” (Daniel 2: 21-22 NIV).

Good to know. Important to remember.

For the record, in 1787, at the opening of the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin called on those gathered to open each session with prayer. Perhaps Franklin, who didn’t believe in prayer, was exercising some diplomacy. Or maybe he began to believe in the existence of God’s providential care by recognizing His creative and sustaining hand on a brand new nation.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

Nan Corbitt Allen

About the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 45+ years. A three-time Dove Award winner, Nan’s lyrics and dramas have been performed around the world. Dennis and Nan have sold almost 3 million choral books.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image.jpeg

Nan and Dennis retired in 2020 from full time teaching at Truett McConnell University. They now live south of Nashville. They have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren.

Nan’s book, Small Potatoes @ the Piggly Wiggly, is a collection of devotionals that reveal the great impact seemingly insignificant, routine experiences can have in our lives. She describes what she learned of God’s providence and wisdom while growing up in the Deep South in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Join the conversation: How does the thought of God being active and in control of all things help you this morning?

Laughter: No Prescription Required!

by Deb DeArmond @DebDeArmond

My husband and I love ice cream. And not just any ice cream, but the flavors Cherry Pecan for him and Cappuccino Chocolate Crunch for me. We visit our favorite local shop often. More often than my cardiologist might prefer, but I’ve not detailed my obsession to him or the frequency with which I indulge.

We have a “standing” order. A hot fudge sundae for each (!) with our specific favorite ice cream flavor. The kid at the drive-through, Ed, knows us well. I once informed him if he didn’t see us over the course of a week, she should call the police and report us missing. He laughed. So did we.

So, it was an interesting evening when Ed was off, and the young woman at the drive through was unaware of our VIP status. Ron placed our order as always. The reply was jarring: “I’m sorry, sir. We’re all out of Cappuccino Chocolate Crunch.”

This was new.

My husband looked at me with raised eyebrows. “So what do you want?”

I thought for a moment. “I have no ideas what flavors they carry other than our two. No clue.”

Without missing a beat, Ron turned to the menu board speaker. “That’s okay. We’ll wait.”

There was a long silence, followed with “I’m sorry sir. I don’t know what that means.”

I began to laugh. I think I snorted a little. Ron clarified. “We’ll have to come in and see what’s available.”

I laughed as we pulled around and parked. I laughed as I exited the car. I was still laughing and gasping for breath as we entered the building. My mother would have described it as “carrying on out of control.” She’d have been right.

It’s a small store. We could see the girl from the drive through window who looked at us like maniacs. It made me laugh harder. People gave us a wide berth.

“Cappuccino Chocolate Crunch?” asked the manager. I nodded. It was the best I could do in the moment. “I got ya covered.” He went to the freezer and grabbed a pre-pack take home gallon and popped the lid. Crisis averted.

Nothing makes me happier than a good chuckle, a guffaw or a hearty laugh as part of a faith-filled life. It’s a gift that can break the tension, create connection, and celebrate silliness.

The Bible makes it clear that God believes humor should be on the agenda as a healthy habit. Proverbs 17:22 NKJ says, “A merry heart does good, like medicine.” The words laugh and laughter are mentioned 200 times in the Bible.

Some of those times are not happy moments, such as the laugh of unbelief (Gen. 11-12, 15), the laughter of a fool (Eccl.7:6), and the laughter of derision (Prov. 1:24-26).

But the fourth type of laughter is a healthy expression which brings richness to our lives. Here are a few good examples of why God’s people should have a good laugh:

  • Lack of fear – “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” (Proverbs 31:25 NLT)
  • Happiness and connection – “Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down.” (Romans 12:15 MSG)
  • Joy – “God will let you laugh again; you’ll raise the roof with shouts of joy.” (Job 8:21 MSG)
  • Relief – “Good people will watch and worship. They’ll laugh in relief.” (Psalm 52:6 MSG)
  • God is acting on our behalf – “When the righteous see God in action they’ll laugh, they’ll sing, they’ll laugh and sing for joy.” (Psalm 68:3 MSG)
  • Good fortune – “We laughed, we sang, we couldn’t believe our good fortune.” (Psalm 126:2 MSG)
  • It blesses God – Bring a gift of laughter, sing yourselves into his presence.” (Psalm 100:2 MSG)

In other words, while life here on earth is sometimes no joke, laughter is appropriate, healthy, and pleasing to God. So, tune up those vocal chords and let loose a giggle or guffaw, a chortle or chuckle, a snicker, a snort or a shout. Let it fly and exclaim to the world the goodness of God!

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4 NIV

4 Types of Laughter—With No Prescription Required – @DebDeArmond on @AriseDaily (Click to Tweet)

DeArmond-29 copyAbout the authorDeb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship, and conflict resolution. A writer and professional speaker, Deb addresses topics related to the family and women. Her books include: Related by Chance, Family by ChoiceI Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last and Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight! Deb’s books help readers, whether engaged, newlywed, or long-time married, create the life God meant marriage and family to be. You can read more from Deb at Family Matters/Deb.

Join the conversation: When is the last time you had a good laugh? Please share so that we can laugh along with you!

Content in Any Season

by Kristi Neace

After being out of town for an extended time, I was more than ready to get back to teaching my precious women’s Sunday School class.  But upon entering the classroom, I was shocked to learn that I had been replaced!

Now before my trips, I had prayerfully turned in my resignation. But I was careful to express I was in no rush and very willing to serve until they found the right person. Now I suddenly found myself replaceable. The sting of that broken tie to the women and church I had grown to love nipped at my soul.

This season has ended, I heard Him whisper into my thoughts as I walked out of the classroom for the last time. Yet it was still a somewhat bitter pill to swallow.

Early the next morning, still nursing the wound, I turned in my Bible to Psalm 1. Combing through the passage, the words which yields its fruit in season jumped off the page. I was again reminded that fruitfulness has an appointed time. Obviously my time in that position had run its course.

Continuing to ponder what God was trying to teach me, I thumbed forward to a familiar passage in Ecclesiastes 3:1… “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” (ESV)

Neither verse was new to me, but nonetheless, at that moment, I was freshly reassured that it was God alone who was shifting my path…plotting the next course, whatever that may be.

Though I could choose to be offended at the church’s lack of communication and unexpectedly abrupt ending to what had been a fruitful season, I knew that God had something different for me now, and my transition to the next thing might even include a period of rest.

Over the next several days, I came to realize it all was actually a blessing. God had faithfully provided a competent teacher to take over the class (what I had prayed for!) While she had been moved into a time of fruitfulness, I had been moved into a time of rest from a busy season of fruit bearing. I was now in a season of metaphorical harvest – the fruit having been produced, the tree was now at rest.

I don’t know what season you are in right now. Perhaps you are busy producing the things God has called you to, but maybe you find yourself in a season of fallow ground. Know that no matter where God has you, everything happens in His time. He may have you in times of production but will also lead you into stillness between seasons.

Sweet friend, learn to be content in both. You can rest in His sovereignty and goodness no matter where God has you.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” Psalm 1:3 ESV

Kristi NeaceAbout the author: Kristi Neace is an accomplished Author, Speaker and Artist. She is also the founder of a nation-wide, non-profit ministry called Badge of Hope. Join her as she blogs about life as a cop’s wife, offering encouragement in such an upside-down world. Kristi has written several Bible studies, including Layers: Living a Life Unhindered. Her latest book is Under Fire: Marriage Through the Eyes of a Cop’s Wife.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Kristi’s book, Layers, Living a Life Unhindered,  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

 

Join the conversation: What has God taught you during your seasons of rest? Encourage others by recalling God’s faithfulness.