Blackaby: Take Heart, Spring is Around the Corner

Blackaby_11172014Richard Blackaby. 2012. The Seasons of God:  How the Shifting Patterns of Your Life Reveal His Purposes for You. Colorado Springs:  Multnomah Books.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

“You have to know when to cut bait and when to go fishing.”

Whoever said it first was certainly a fishing expert. A good friend of mine, who is an obsessive fisherman that actually put himself through school working in fisheries, advised:  the time to fish is at twilight—morning and evening.  I never caught a fish with an artificial lure until the day I followed his advice.  Timing is everything if you want to catch fish.

Richard Blackaby’s book, The Seasons of God, builds on the basic premise of King Solomon (7):  For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1 ESV).  Blackaby (3) writes:

This book explores something that involves getting your timing right for all you do and where you do it.  It’s about being free to really enjoy what you’re doing and where you’re doing—and to make the most of the experience.

Blackaby (13) reminds us also of the Apostle Paul’s observation that: at the right time Christ died for the ungodly (Rom 5:6 ESV).

Blackaby (24-41) summarzes his observations about timing in a chapter entitled: Ten Laws of the Seasons of Life.  These laws are:

  1. Each of us experiences repeated cycles in life that are profoundly mirrored in the seasons we see in nature.
  2. These seasons are more than simply a metaphor for aging.
  3. Each season is unique and adds important dimensions to life.
  4. Our seasons follow a set order.
  5. Our seasons vary in length and intensity—and in what they require from us.
  6. The way we handle one season profoundly impacts how we experience the seasons that follow.
  7. We can—and often do—fail to recognize and understand our particular season.
  8. Understanding our seasons of life requires a vital, open, trusting relationship with God.
  9. We experience different seasons in different aspects of our lives.
  10. We are meant to thrive in every season.

This last point is terribly important—thriving is God’s will for our lives and his guidance is the key to making the most of each season (40).

The four seasons of life are taken from nature.  Blackaby (25-26) describes them as follows:

  1. Spring is about potential, promise, and possibilities.
  2. Summer is a time of growth and maturation.
  3. Autumn is the season of harvest.
  4. Winter is a season of winding down—withdrawal, retreat, and closure.

Problems (47) arise when we are impatient for the next season (season rushers) or refuse to give up the previous season (season graspers).  I am more prone to impatience—friends used to say that I was born 16 years old—but we all know someone who reports their age on their birthday as 29—again.  Getting stuck in a particularly happy season or particularly sad season seems to be a pattern repeated in many unhappy lives.

Blackaby’s book is written in 3 parts:  Embracing the Pattern, Embracing each Season, and Thriving in All Our Seasons.  These parts are composed of 29 chapters.  Chapters 6 through 25 are found in part 2 where Blackaby introduces a classification system:  4 seasons described in 4 areas of life.  The seasons are listed above; the 4 areas of life affected by the seasons are: your identity, your relationships, your roles, and your faith (58-60).  The first and third parts of the book introduce the subject, summarize the lessons learned, and suggest what to do with it.

Many people will want to skip straight to chapter 28:  With Joy Comes Laughter.  Here Blackaby talks about how to have fun.  How do you become a joy-producing person? (238)  Blackaby suggests house decorations (240), a chocolate fountain (241), a costume closet (241), holiday themes (242), and homemade movies (242).  Richard: please invite me to your home sometime!

Blackaby’s writing has been influential in my walk with the Lord.  Although I was exposed to Experiencing God[1] in my church, I actually spent more time with Hearing God’s Voice[2].  It was about a year later that I began to sense a call into pastoral ministry.  Blackaby’s The Seasons of God is a good holiday read and a thoughtful book anytime.  It may change your life.

[1] Henry T. Blackaby and Claude V. King.  1990.  Knowing and Doing the Will of God. Nashville:  Lifeway Press.

[2] Henry and Richard Blackaby.  2002.  Hearing God’s Voice.  Nashville:  Broadman and Holman Publishers.

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