“Our globe is being shaken harder and harder by the forces of chaos. As it’s shaken, so are we. The more chaotic it is, the more shook-up everyone in it tends to become. It’s like trying to do everyday life in a continuous earthquake. Or in a swirling snowstorm. It’s hard to gain our bearings. To think straight. To see what’s really going on.” Allen Arnold – Chaos Can’t
I remember, very clearly, a time in my life when the only thing that mattered was what I had planned when I got home from school. At 8 years old it would likely be climbing into my tree fort or shooting hoops in the backyard. Maybe having my best friend over for a snack and taking a ride on my spider bike around the block a few times. Life was so much simpler and less chaotic. In fact, I likely didn’t know what the word chaotic even meant.
Then I became a grown-up. Like overnight. It’s as if I was teleported into the 21st Century and dropped on a distant planet. I have a wife, a mortgage, a kid to raise (she’s on her own now thankfully), work to do, mouths to feed, and a yard to cut. Oh, let’s not forget keeping up with a modern world on steroids through a technology called the iPhone. Seems like it’s everything BUT a phone. I still remember the rotary version hanging on the wall in the kitchen. A payphone I used in my first sales job to confirm appointments on the way to Long Island from Philly.
How did we land in this foreign land? Big Tech has taken over our lives and with the media outlets peddling fear and hostility you’d think God fell off His throne. The end of the world is near if you don’t vote against the candidate that will ruin your life. Like it’s not already ruined by the bias they’re peddling daily. I feel my blood pressure rising as I write this.
What’s a sane person to do?
UNPLUG for one.
Can you say worldwide Pandemic? Of course, you can, you’re in the middle of one. Are wildfires happening? Of course, they are. Seems like everywhere. Did we just experience one of the most contested elections in American history? Sure. Do you feel like there are people in power that care about nothing else except controlling your life – clueless on how to actually keep anyone safe? Yep. And the hypocrisy is staggering.
Here’s a more contemporary definition of chaos.
“Chaos is a destructive, fear-based force that prevents you from fully living. The way it comes against you-large and small-are often intensely personal strikes meant to leave you empty.” Another quote from Allen Arnold’s book.
If we’re honest most of the chaos lives in our minds and in our hearts. We create a narrative based on input through the most influential sources of that input. Usually of our own choosing.
Wait, do you mean I can actually control some of the feelings I have? Indirectly, yes. You get to choose the sources of information that drive many of your emotions or even the story you’re telling yourself about the circumstance you’re in. Think about how soothing worship music can be. Think about how stressful a traffic jam is on the way to a meeting your running 5 minutes late for. Now it turns into 20. Life is like one big traffic jam right now.
I was in Bangalore, India several years ago. I have never experienced so many people in one place at one time on one road. Talk about chaos. The only way I survived the fear that was raging in my brain was to convince myself that the guy driving does this every day. He knows how to navigate through the chaos. I just need to sit back and pretend I’m in an amusement park and enjoy the ride. So I did. I changed the narrative since I couldn’t change my circumstances. You can do the same thing.
The world is not going to end until God wants it to. He has so much more for each of us to experience before that happens, even if it happens tomorrow. As Christians, we carry a different perspective. One of joy, peace, gentleness, goodness. You know – the fruit of the Spirit.
Our typical reactions to chaos are to do nothing, deny it, control it, fight it, or take advantage of it. We reap what we sow. I’ll allow you to imagine what each of those responses might look like. You may be able to put yourself in one of those categories right now. Most of them are not helpful.
John warned us. “in this world, you will have trouble” (John 16:33 NIV) In context the word means affliction, pressure, harassment. You may even call it chaos. Just today Our Daily Bread offered a devotional that reminded me of a story from the tragedy of the Titanic. It was a heart-warming story but ultimately the person helping to save others lost their own life. In some ways we are navigating seas full of icebergs. (As Arnold mentions in his book) “Some are hidden below the surface and others protrude like mammoth frozen mountains, taunting any ship that enters its path.”
I just want Jesus to step in a fix the chaos. Not likely the way I would though.
What is the answer? I believe that answer resides in each Believer. He’s called the Holy Spirit.
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17)
The Holy Spirit is the antithesis of chaos. The Spirit, in Genesis 1:2, brought the chaos and emptiness into order. He will do the same thing for you. It does require a level of cooperation though. God is a gentleman, as my wife often says. He won’t invade your world without invitation. The same way He invited you to enter His Kingdom. He stands at the door and knocks but won’t enter until you open the door. Ever notice the famous painting by William Holman Hunt? Absent is a knob on Jesus’ side of the door. The only handle available to open the door is on the inside. That’s you.
How do you bring order to chaos? You don’t. The Spirit does.
My challenge to you this day is to take the steps necessary to declutter your life and give room for the Holy Spirit to bring order in its place. That can only happen through developing an intimate relationship with Him. That can only happen when you make Him the priority. And I mean the all-day priority, not just a few minutes in the morning or at night.
This is no time for lukewarm commitments to Christ or His Kingdom. The “Days” are running short. The chaos around us may very well increase. Let’s band together in a time that calls for unity around our Lord and spreading the Good News of His salvation and His coming.
Let Him neutralize the chaos.