Backdrop (Genesis 1; 8:22; Eccles. 3:1–8)
From the very first note heard and the first word spoken, the earth has continued to spin on its axis just as God promised (Gen. 8:22). As the world turns, the seasons progress in their prescribed cycles and so do the experiences of the human family. The ebb and flow of life was rightly summed up by King Solomon as seasons: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Eccles. 3:1). Everything happens in God’s own time, but of course, we have a part to play in the many choices we are called to make throughout our life’s cycles.
Individual choices have a great deal to do with the outcome of each person’s story.
The Theme (Gen. 21:8)
None of us can accurately say that we are who or where we are today all by ourselves. Each of us has been impacted, whether positively or negatively, by individuals who helped to form the fabric of our lives. The growth of a family is peppered with causes for celebration (cf. Gen. 21:8). It also has periods of tension and chaos, all of which help to foster growth and determine the direction each family member will take in life.
In an interesting way, the relationships we create within our families continue to play out throughout our lives, and the ultimate relationship we can create with our Maker colors our decisions. The family is a force to be reckoned with, and the Bible is replete with examples of the power families wield in our world for good or ill. Individual choices have a great deal to do with the outcome of each person’s story, but the powerful influence a family has on the make-up of the next generation is clear.
Character Development (Judg. 13:24–14:2)
One very interesting study of character development is found in the life of Samson. The last two verses of chapter thirteen and the two that begin chapter fourteen of the book of Judges give a very concise summary of the account of his life. But reading just those verses skips the many lessons to be learned from the events surrounding his conception and those that led to his demise.
Samson’s birth, like a handful of others in Bible history, was foretold. The heavenly messenger who brought both glad tidings and careful instruct to Samson’s parents also instilled in them a deep reverential fear. We can surmise that they kept on the straight and narrow since Samson physically reaped the promised benefit of their strict obedience.
Clearly, however, quite a lot happened between Samson’s birth and his desiring a wife. His choices for a life partner are quite telling of the principles he held dear and the relationship he had with the God of his fathers. Even when his parents tried to dissuade him from his first choice for a companion, the youth insisted that his wants be met. In pursuit of what he considered happiness, much calamity and chaos ensued; and though the full saga may not have had to read the way it does, God’s plan to deliver Israel from their conquerors was still accomplished.
Denouement (Gen. 15:15; Judg. 8:32; Pss. 71:5; 90:10–12; Prov. 5:18; Jer. 9:23, 24; James 1:5)
To most millennials that I know, dying at a good old age seems a bit far off. The pursuit of present joy or perceived happiness appears to be the agenda of each day, and the conclusion of our short lives is a matter little thought of. The wise counsel of Scripture, however, implores us to pause long enough to consider the conclusion of the matter. In Jeremiah 9:23, 24 we see that real joy and true happiness should flow from our relationship with our heavenly Father. We may exult in strength, wisdom, and riches, but these are only for a limited time and will soon pass away. The only attainment that will last both in this life and the life to come is the bond that we form with God.
If we make the Lord our hope and trust from our youth, we will not be disappointed in the end. Every promise He has written is ours for the taking: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you” (Jer. 29:11, 12). “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5).
“We spend our years as a tale that is told” indeed, but that tale can have a positive ripple effect, a contagious thread of great adventures and a happy ending if we “apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Ps. 90:9, 12). No matter what direction we choose to go, the story of our lives will be read and have an influence on others. Let us determine to live lives that can be counted blessed and retold with rejoicing.
1. What do you consider to be a full life or a life well lived?
2. How can we keep God as our focus while we go through the many seasons of life?