EVERY SEASON

Joe wrote his last lesson on March 15, 2020. He delivered it to me on Christmas Eve. As Sunday School Superintendent, Joe delivered a brief “mini lesson” to the church congregation before we dismissed to go to our classes each week. He wrote each lesson in a beautiful leather notebook with a beautiful Cross pen, gifted to him by his wonderful wife{wink}.

March 15 2020 was the last time we had “regular” Sunday School at Seven Springs Baptist Church. The notebook was left on a dresser in our home office, untouched until Christmas Eve 2020…19 days after Joe’s death.

I attempted to wrap gifts in the office that day, but my heart just wasn’t in it. Instead, I wandered from corner to corner of this room filled with Joe’s prized possessions, touching things…trying to find some peace or solace in a world filled with his things, but not with him. The black leather notebook was wedged underneath several other books. I passed it several times before I tugged it from its spot. I opened it backwards, so the first page I saw was the last page he wrote. It was dated March 15 2020, which in my memory stands out as one of the last “normal” days this world knew, before masks and distancing and fear knocked on our doors as an uninvited guest. I am sure I thought to myself during the months that followed that things couldn’t get much worse. On December 5, 2020, I learned that things could, indeed, get much worse.

I honestly don’t remember Joe delivering this message to our congregation in March. Maybe I was already in my classroom. Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention. Maybe God knew in March that I would need this lesson more on December 24. I sat down in his leather recliner and read these words, knowing that somehow, my sweet Joe was speaking directly to me. He wrote:

March 15 2020

A SEASON FOR EVERYTHING

I really enjoy fall and winter. Each year I look forward to the cooler temperatures after our hot and humid Eastern North Carolina summer. I look forward to hunting season, Thanksgiving and Christmas. But, by the time we get through the cold, short days of January and February, I’ll admit that I am ready to see some signs of spring.

Winter helps to prepare the ground for the next season. Without each season playing its part, our environment here on earth would surely collapse.

Sometimes, as Christians, we may think that if we follow God’s commands and do like we are supposed to, we won’t (or we shouldn’t have to) endure hardships or hurt. However, life, like nature, moves in seasons.

Ecclesiastes 3 states that “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under Heaven. A time to be born. A time to die. A time to plant. A time to pluck what is planted. A time to kill. A time to heal. A time to weep and a time to laugh. A time to mourn and a time to dance.”

We are part of a sinful world, and we ourselves are not without sin. Sometimes being part of that world means that we have to go through our own painful experiences or seasons.

Yet, God will take our hard times and trials and use them for good and for His glory. He will take our season of suffering and use it to open our eyes to the hard times others are going through. He will use seasons of death to remind us of the beauty of life. He will use our season of sorrow to draw us ever closer to Him.

Whatever season of life you find yourself in right now, I want you to remember that God uses everything for the good of those who love Him.

Take some time to examine the seasons of your life. Remember how God spoke to you and as you go out into the world this week, look for others who need your encouragement.

I’ll leave you with Ecclesiastes 3:11: “He hath made everything beautiful in His time”.

-JMP

Although I’d give most anything to hear that sweet southern drawl again, I still find peace as I read his words. On every page, Joe’s words direct us toward God’s word. So, I share this with you because Joe asked me to look for others who need encouragement. This season of my life is hard…but Joe reminded me that I have never been through a season that God was not holding me. He holds you, too. Right this very moment, you and I are cradled safely in the palm of God’s hand. We may be broken, but may we always remember that He hath made everything beautiful in His time.

…Words of Wisdom from the Book of Joe

13 thoughts on “EVERY SEASON

  1. I loved listening to Joe’s message every Sunday. He has always been special to me. I always thought how proud Jackie must be of him. He was such a kind, sweet young man, talented, as a musician and singer and very handsome as well.

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  2. Oh Rhonda I can hear Joe reading that! And how simply honest it is! I love it and will reread it again and again! You, Jackie and Sarah are in my prayers🙏❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for sharing this! What a gift from God through the words of Joe! We never walk alone. God is always there walking through life with us and often times carrying us. May God’s footprints continue to be revealed as you go through this difficult season. We continue to remember all of you in our thoughts and prayers. 🙏💕

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  4. Perfect!! I needed to read these words right now at 1:15 am as I lay here awake worrying abt tomorrow and the days to come!
    Thank you for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Rhonda this is Darrick Randell’s momma
    You might have heard I lost my son JB on May 6 but the last time I saw was March 15. I so wish I had hug him a little longer and took a picture.
    I have struggled with my faith because JB was a kind person and always thought of others. This spoke to me in ways I can’t explain. Know that Joe’s sermon was meaningful. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Ms. Valerie, I was so sorry to hear about JB. Some of my fondest memories are running around at the pool with your boys! It makes my heart happy to know Joe’s words touched your heart. Life just is not fair, but I have found comfort in giving my tears, cries, screams, etc to God. He knows your heart anyway. I will pray for you, today and always. 💗

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  6. Beautiful words! I felt just like he saw inside my heavy heart and spoke from his writings.
    What a beautiful gift he has left for you. So glad you had the time you did with this man. You are blessed ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Joe is one of the people I wish I had known better. There is a lot of his mother in him and I am sorry to say I did not know his father. There is a quote I often think about from Wintley Phipps… “It is in the quiet crucible of your personal, private sufferings that your noblest dreams are born and God’s greatest gifts are given in compensation for what you have been through.”
    In my own life, I find that when I have been hurt deeply there is a lesson learned. My own hurt can be a part of another’s healing. This comes from my struggle with God’s Holy Word, Romans 8:28. My own belief that God’s Word is true helped me to understand. Isaiah 55:11…”so My Word that goes out from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
    Thank you for sharing your hurt with the healing love it brings to many, every day!

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  8. Ronda, I cannot begin to thank you enough for sharing this beautiful message from Joe. His words touched my heart so much. The scripture he quoted, Ecclesiastes 3, is the very same scripture that was going through my head when I got word that the police were going to break into my brother’s house to make sure he was okay because he had not been heard from in several weeks. It was this same scripture that gave me strength when the police called to tell me that they had found Murray dead in his house. We used it at his funeral as well. God’s timing is always perfect even though we do not often understand it. You did find Joe’s message at the right time because God knew you needed it then. You shared it with us because you knew we needed it as well. My heart has ached for you so much since I learned of Joe’s death and if it were not for COVID, I would have been to see you by now. This has been a difficult season for so many of us, but as promised, there will be other seasons of hope, love, grace, and peace. Each season has a reason and God is always there to help us through them. I hope you know how much I love you and how much I continue to pray for you and your family. Thank you for sharing these precious words. I needed to hear them so much today. You are on my heart always and forever!

    Liked by 1 person

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