Students will respond to a 14-year time-lapse video as they explore the idea that there is a time for everything.
Do you feel time moves fast or slow? Why? (Answers will vary.)
Time is one of those complex things that can be hard to grasp since our perspective is often so limited. You might think time moves in slow motion—especially when you are waiting for something specific, but a wider view tells us that time flies by quickly and you wonder where the time went.
A filmmaker in Holland felt his daughter was growing up so fast that he decided to capture the many stages of her childhood and put them all together in a stunning time-lapse video. Let’s see what that 14-year compression of time looks like.
Share the following video with your students [4:05; if time is an issue, you can manually stop and start the video in several places, but if possible watch the entire thing for the full effect]:
Portrait of Lotte, 0 to 14 years in 4 min.
When do you think Lotte, the girl in the video, changed the most? (Answers will vary.)
Did your parents take a lot of photographs of you growing up? Find someone near you and tell them about one of the WORST pictures you can remember from your childhood. (Adult leaders might consider planning ahead by sharing a funny childhood photo with the class.)
Why do you think parents like to document their children’s development? What does it teach us? (Time moves quickly. We think we will always be at one stage in life, but in a blink of an eye, a new stage has arrived.)
If you had a time lapse video of high school so far, what big events would it contain? What about personal changes?(Encourage students to share some of the stages they’ve gone through so far. These might include a summer where they grew several inches, a change in haircut or style, or a difference in interest—such as a band member in uniform who changed to a football player in uniform.)
The Bible documents God’s wide-angle view of humanity. Each season and stage of life is designed carefully, each part fitting into the sometimes unknowable plan of God. Let’s look at the Book of Ecclesiastes and find out how perfectly all the parts fit together.
Looking for Steps 2 & 3?
You can find Steps 2 and 3 in your teacher’s guide; your Step 4 appears below. To purchase a teacher's guide, please visit: Bible-in-Life or Echoes
Poster board or cardboard for signs
Before class, create three signs out of poster board or cardboard: PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE.
In this step, you will be asking your students to examine their past, present, and future. All three areas will prompt different reflection, but each one leads directly to understanding God’s sovereignty over the seasons of their lives.
Start by placing your three signs (past, present, future) in three areas of your classroom. Divide your class randomly into three groups, one group per sign. You should provide each student with paper and a pen/pencil. Ask them to divide their paper into three columns.
Each of you is sitting near a sign that represents one of the three parts of our lives. All of us feel some anxiety about our PAST, PRESENT, and FUTURE. You will spend 3-5 minutes at each station, writing down any significant areas where you might feel unsure of God’s control or timing. This is a private reflective exercise, so you will not need to share anything you write. Be honest with yourself as you write your questions.
This activity works best when students are silent and respectful of others. Rotating all the groups at the same time will help eliminate pressure to race through the activity.
When they are finished, gather everyone together for some final questions.
Out of these three areas—past, present, and future—which one tends to give teens the most anxiety? (Some students might share that the present brings the most pressing challenges, but others might be fearful of the huge unknowns of adulthood or the consequences of a difficult or traumatic past.)
What happens when people try to force an event or milestone before the right time? (We might stunt personal growth or rush ahead foolishly into something we’re not ready for. It takes patience to wait for God’s timing.)
What can we do to discern a wise pace and rhythm in our lives? (We can reflect on what God has done in the past. We can seek counsel from experienced Christians. We can study the Scripture and see how God’s character is reflected in His actions.)
Is there a particular place in your life where you are not using your time wisely? (Consider having your students share their impressions with someone next to them.)
Encourage your class to spend time this week in prayer and reflection as they seek to offer those three columns to Jesus’ control.
As you close, spend a few moments in corporate prayer as you ask God to help you and your students live out the rhythm of your lives with patient, careful submission.
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