Turn…Turn…Turn

20180502 Turn...Turn...Turn Picture.jpg

In 1965 Pete Seeger adapted the words of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, put them to music, and the Byrds sang the resulting song into a popular hit, “Turn… Turn… Turn.” The lyrics and song struck a familiar chord with many in those days who were experiencing times of tremendous change. Some of you reading this may remember all the upheavals of life during the turbulent 1960’s, as massive changes swept through every level of American society.

The theme of Seeger’s song, penned by inspiration at the hand of King Solomon, was that change happens under God’s control, not by random chance. He wrote, “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4).

The result of all these changes reaches its climax in verse 11, where it says, “He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their hearts. . . .” This means that God has given every person an eternal perspective, so that he or she can look beyond the routine changes and difficulties of his or her own existence. Because God made us eternal beings, each of us realizes that there is more to this life than struggles, gains, losses, joys and heartaches. In the most thoughtful times you realize that you are not like “little dog Rover, dead all over,” when you die. We were created eternal beings with God’s desire that we enjoy fellowship with Him forever. God made fellowship with Him possible, and life forever in Heaven available by trusting Jesus Christ as your Savior. The apostle John wrote that, “whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:16-17).

However, knowing you are an eternal being does not mean you love the ups and downs, gains and losses, in this life. Change is inevitable, difficult, and most often resisted. But as Henry Ford observed, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

Personally, I have always identified with the last phrase of Proverbs 24:21, “My son, fear the Lord and the king; do not associate with those who are given to change.” I find comfort in this verse because the status quo is pleasant, while new things, changing things; unfamiliar things, are complicated, strange and uncomfortable. As difficult as it is, change happens these days more frequently, more inevitably and more swiftly than ever before.

Washington Irving (1783-1859), author of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle,” recorded something true and memorable about “change.” He wrote, “There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse! As I have often found in traveling in a stagecoach, that sometimes it is a comfort to shift one’s position, and be bruised in a new place.” Change may be painful, but it is not all bad if you can be bruised in a new place.

An unknown back-porch philosopher accurately appraised the problem like this: “Changes—they are a comin’!” Change is inevitable. We are witnessing dramatic changes in almost everything we know, see and do. Rapid and often unwelcome changes in technology, politics, moral standards, government, society, media, nations, communications and finances are just the tip of the iceberg. Like it or not, drastic change is the new norm. Rapid changes will probably continue to accelerate the closer we approach the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though it makes some of us uncomfortable, sometimes change is good, wholesome, healthy, and may be spiritually invigorating. And, as the old saying goes, like it or not, here it comes!

In today’s multi-generational mix of fickle humanity, if you are a serious follower of Jesus Christ in this age you must chart your course by being committed to unchangeable values while being flexible with harmless trends. Some changes come and go without damage or danger. Sometimes the difference between the absolute and the abstract gets murky, but thankfully, inspired Scripture enables us to stay focused on what is important. Our direction must always be determined by imperative, clear, biblical priorities. We know that the Word of God is just as powerful and relevant whether it is read from ink on paper in a leather-bound book, or from an app on an iPhone. Truth is truth.

Change can be intimidating and frightening, but it can also be exciting and positive if we employ the changes to expand the kingdom and reach more people with His eternal, life-changing message. Focus on being true to the message that does not change while communicating in methods that always change. Robin Sharma said that “Change is hard at first, messy in the middle, but gorgeous at the end.”

No matter what happens, God is still in control and He still has a great plan for His people to honor and serve Him. Find your place and purpose in life, and hang on to the hope of His glory!

Author: Larry E. Clements

Follower of Christ, fortunate to be husband to Pat, father of 5, grandfather of 12, writer, associate pastor of Pauline Baptist Church

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