“A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.” Ecclesiastes 3:5
The idea of casting away stones in the bible seems akin to the practice of stoning (no not on drugs.) One of the worst forms of punishment for sin in the Old Testament. And gathering stone could refer to that as well. however The Preacher’s (Solomon) father King David used a sling in his early days to defend himself from threats. He would gather stones and then of course sling them away. Interestingly stones were also used to build altars to sacrifice to the Most High on. But laying aside biblical application for the moment, let’s think about what the action of gathering and casting away actually symbolizes: Preparation and action.
There is a time to prepare for meting out justice, defending you home, and purifying yourself; and then there is the time to stop preparing and actually do it. That goes for just about everything. Work, relationships, studying.
And upon mentioning relationships I come to the second half of the verse. Honestly. Being the homeschooled Christian that I am, I’ve mostly heard this verse used in context with Purity. Which is most certainly one application. But in my limited experienced embracing means much more than hormones. It requires trust to let someone touch you and to touch them. Even if it’s no more than a shoulder pat or a hand squeeze or the notorious side-hug. If you touch someone before they are ready you create unpleasantness in the relationship. And mistrust, if you persist long enough. But then again, sometimes people don’t know how much they need it. I’m serious, at my church hugging is the thing, and at first I felt awkward with it, but then I began to appreciate it. At least people thought of me enough for that even if they couldn’t say much by way of greeting. It’s not too hard to tell when someone is just uncomfortable and when they’re flat out disturbed.
And embracing is more than physical. There’s a time to open up inside, and a time to refrain from doing so because the other person is just not ready or able to return it. There’s a time to pull someone close, and a time to give them their space. There’s preparation for this too, Like courting or dating before getting engaged.
I’ve read that in the time of Christ, engagement consisted of a year of abstinence before official marriage, during that time the man would build a house and court the young woman; building her trust we can hope. I’ve read similar things about some tribes of native Americans. That the families would observe the couple individually to see if they were good workers and would make good companions for each other. It seems like a wise idea to me, preparing for commitment is kind of like standing on the edge of a diving board. You want to get into the right position and jump from the right place on the board and launch a perfect dive.
There are seasons in and of preparation and they are different for everyone. The important thing is to remember to exercise restraint and allow for time. And to give other people time as well. Don’t use the phrase “You’re holding out on me.” Preparation is the time to learn patience because like it or not, every season of life is preparing you for another. I like to think of it as going from glory to glory.
Be prepared for part 5, until then–Natasha