Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Seasons - Genesis 1:14-19

In today's Bible study, we fight pornography by asking the Creator of time to guide us through all the seasons of life.

Picture credit: NASA
And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. God made two great lights--the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning--the fourth day. Genesis 1:14-19

וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֗ים יְהִ֤י מְאֹרֹת֙ בִּרְקִ֣יעַ הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם לְהַבְדִּ֕יל בֵּ֥ין הַיּ֖וֹם וּבֵ֣ין הַלָּ֑יְלָה וְהָי֤וּ לְאֹתֹת֙ וּלְמ֣וֹעֲדִ֔ים וּלְיָמִ֖ים וְשָׁנִֽים׃ וְהָי֤וּ לִמְאוֹרֹת֙ בִּרְקִ֣יעַ הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם לְהָאִ֖יר עַל־הָאָ֑רֶץ וַֽיְהִי־כֵֽן׃ וַיַּ֣עַשׂ אֱלֹהִ֔ים אֶת־שְׁנֵ֥י הַמְּאֹרֹ֖ת הַגְּדֹלִ֑ים אֶת־הַמָּא֤וֹר הַגָּדֹל֙ לְמֶמְשֶׁ֣לֶת הַיּ֔וֹם וְאֶת־הַמָּא֤וֹר הַקָּטֹן֙ לְמֶמְשֶׁ֣לֶת הַלַּ֔יְלָה וְאֵ֖ת הַכּוֹכָבִֽים׃ וַיִּתֵּ֥ן אֹתָ֛ם אֱלֹהִ֖ים בִּרְקִ֣יעַ הַשָּׁמָ֑יִם לְהָאִ֖יר עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃ וְלִמְשֹׁל֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם וּבַלַּ֔יְלָה וּֽלֲהַבְדִּ֔יל בֵּ֥ין הָא֖וֹר וּבֵ֣ין הַחֹ֑שֶׁךְ וַיַּ֥רְא אֱלֹהִ֖ים כִּי־טֽוֹב׃ וַֽיְהִי־עֶ֥רֶב וַֽיְהִי־בֹ֖קֶר י֥וֹם רְבִיעִֽי׃ פ

Our entire understanding of life is bound within the concept of time, and our entire understanding of time is given to us by the constant, cyclical rhythms of the celestial bodies in the heavens. The motions of the earth and the moon define our days, our months, our seasons, and our years. Even the ebb and flow of the tides are a gift from the moon above.

All these rhythms were set in motion by the Creator, at the founding of our solar system. As such, He gave us a physical framework to help us conceptually understand the seasons of our lives. Our past, our present, and our future only make sense to us because they are organized inside these measurements of time.

It is nearly impossible to talk about any part of life without including a reference to time. For example:
  • She learned piano as a child.
  • He hopes to win the tournament next week.
  • I struggled with identity as a teenager.
  • They got married young.
  • We hope to finish our house payments in five years.
  • He retired late in life.
  • Every summer we visit my grandmother.
Our memories of the past and our hopes for the future are all linked to specific times and seasons. God gave us these rhythms to help us understand who we are, where we've been, and where we are headed.

However, looking back, our past has not always been what we hoped it would be. Especially in my youth, I did not know how to value and take advantage of the time I had.

Recently, as I looked in old journals, I was shocked and dismayed to discover that my fight with pornography had been going on for 12 years. 12 years is a large percentage of my life. I got angry at myself for days, because I was unable to attain my goal of completely eradicating porn use in such a large period of time. If I would have known that pornography would sink its venomous claws into my soul and would be such a source of grief, hurt and pain for me and my family for over a decade, I would never have started to begin with. I look at that season with sorrow, so sad that I wasted so much time.

Another notable aspect of the sun, moon, and stars is their importance in navigation. For thousands of years people navigated only by looking up to the sky. Cloudy weather presented great difficulty for sailors, who couldn't fix their course without the sun, moon and stars. Basic astronomical knowledge was  common, and most people were familiar with constellations in the stars, especially since they were not hidden by the glare of electric lights.

God gave these signs in the sky as guides to help people navigate through the earth He made. He wants to help us to know how to get where we are going.

Nowadays, we have GPS in our phones, so we don't need to navigate by the sky any more. We look down at electronic devices to find guidance, rather than looking up to the heavens. My screen tells me the month and year, so what need do I have to know solar and lunar positions. This little device in my hand makes me all-knowing and independent, and I'm in control. At least until my battery dies.

Don't get me wrong, I'm definitely not anti-technology. But a spiritual metaphor is hidden here. Who created the times and seasons to help us meaningfully measure the value of our life? God. Who created a means of navigation to help us find our way? God.

But do we look up to Him for guidance through the seasons of our life? No, we look down to our phones.

My pornography use began in a season of intense pressure and difficulty. I was discouraged. I was confused. I was abandoned by the people I had looked to for guidance. I didn't know what to do or which way to turn. And in that moment, I fell into the trap of pornography.

For me, pornography offered an illusion of control. In that place, I'm in charge. In that place, the world exists to fulfill my wants and desires. In that place, there are no pressures and no expectations. But it is all only an illusion. Once that pattern of escape was etched into my brain, I lost control, and became enslaved. The thing that offered me the illusion of control took control of me. And now I have been fighting it for years.

The truth is, if we properly evaluate our lives, we must realize that our perspective is frightfully inadequate. We don't know how to best use the time we are given. We don't understand the meaning of the events of our past. We don't have any control of the future. We don't know what to do today.

My response to these feelings was to try to bury them in pornography. But there is One who knows our times and seasons, and knows how to guide us through our life. As the Creator of time, God's perspective is eternal. Right now, He sees me in this moment as well as in all moments of my life. He is therefore the only trustworthy source of guidance through this often incomprehensible life.

God wants us to recognize our smallness, and the inadequacy of our tiny perspective, and turn to Him for guidance in all the seasons of life. This is why David prays:
Show me, Lord, my life’s end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting my life is. Psalm 39:4
In another place, David writes:
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:16
There is no possible way that I could ever have a wide enough perspective to truly understand my life on my own. As soon as I barely begin to understand how to live one season, the season changes. I need an outside source of perspective. Someone with a long-range view. Someone to show me the meaning of the events of my life. Only God can offer that.

Porn, on the other hand, doesn't offer any of it. Instead, it poisons my relational skills and wastes my time, rather than giving me a chance at a meaningful season of life. So, will I learn to turn to God for guidance in this season? Will I bring my existential pressure to Him rather than try to escape it? Will I recognize my smallness and turn to the Creator for perspective?

The God who set the rhythms of the heavens can surely guide us through all the seasons of our life.

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