Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Calm In The Chaos

How often do we find ourselves swept away by a flash flood of chaos that seems to turn our world upside down? Flash floods can be devastating catastrophes. In 1976, the Big Thompson River flash flood killed 143 people in Colorado when 12 inches of rain fell on just one area, sending a 20 foot wall of water down the canyon destroying lives, homes, cars and businesses. We sometimes say that the rain falls on the good and the bad, but sometimes it falls far away and still devastates those least expecting it.

Others find themselves caught out to sea in a boat when the storm of life strikes. Like the disciples, we all tend to panic. You may have been enjoying a beautiful day on the lake until the wind suddenly changed. The boat starts rocking and destruction seems certain. With Christ in the boat, there’s no need to fear. I like the song that says, “Sometimes He calms the storm, and sometimes He calms His child.” He can bring peace in the middle of any storm. But sometimes the kind of peace we want is not what we get. God has other plans for us. Sometimes life throws us a curve ball. We want it all to go nice and easy, but when the tough times come, we must be spiritually ready to face the storm. How do we do this? How do we find calm in the chaos?

God’s Viewpoint

Remember the bigger picture—God’s view. God sees it all, and he knows how much we can take. He knows all of our tomorrows. He sees into eternity. He knows the lessons we need to learn. He knows our strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes he wants to take our weaknesses and make them strengths. As you face a storm, ask yourself, “God, what do you want me to learn from this?” Perhaps we will suddenly see we have not been in the spiritual place He wants us to be. His desire is that we find our strength in Him, and we do that by feasting on the Word of God. Don’t count on your mate to feed you, or your pastor. Pick up your Bible and begin to feast as the Holy Spirit directs you to just the words you need to nourish your soul. As you read through the stories of the Old Testament historical books, you will discover that over and over again, God allowed challenges to come into the lives of the people of God. It was for one purpose—that they might come to God for help—that they might rely on Him to deliver them. Joseph needed deliverance from slavery and then from prison, and when God taught him to trust, God put Joseph in a place to deliver his own brothers (who had sold him into slavery) from starvation. God saw the bigger picture. It did not end there. In 400 years, the descendents of Joseph and his family became slaves and needed deliverance. God provided once again in Moses. Soon they were facing the Red Sea in one direction, and pharaoh’s army in the other. God used a man who had been forged on the anvil of God to lead them all, not to disaster, but to freedom and victory. God saw through the annals of time that a plan would be needed, a man who would listen to God and follow. It took faith, trust, vision, and blind obedience. From God’s viewpoint, it was all under control. But from Moses viewpoint, and the panicky throng, all they saw was water—then God stepped in and made a path in their chaos.

The Eternal Plan

God always has a plan. Usually we are too busy or too frightened by what is going on around us to seek His eternal plan. It is found in the Book. “Eye has not seen nor ear heard nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Cor 2:9) In fact God has you on his ‘daytimer’. You are on his eternal schedule. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) We know that that wonderful plan and future includes eternal life for the righteous. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

God’s plan does not end for man in the grave. It is the beginning of a wonderful new life with Christ. That new life in Christ is eternal. It will never end. The pain and sickness and death will end. The chaos and frustrations we have known in the earthly life will end, but our spiritual end will outlast everything we have known down here. And because we can know for certain that we are a part of His eternal plan, we can go through life here and now with peace and calm in the midst of chaos.

Family Chaos

It’s not easy raising a family today. Demands pound on our doors. Expectations crowd out the ‘normal’ life of a family. What is so necessary is for a family to determine what should take priority. What do you value the most in your family life? In the parsonage, I determined that the needs of my family out-weighed the demands and expectations of those outside our four walls. God had given me a mission-field of four children and a spouse to care for, to see their spiritual needs, physical needs, and more were taken care of. If I chose to take care of everyone else’s needs and neglected the needs of my immediate family, I would have failed both God and my family. I wanted my children to know that God was more important than other people and their expectations, more important than a job or money or pleasure. Too many confuse God’s demands with church demands. When that happens it sends a silent message to our children that they are not important, and that God is an enemy who steals away vital time. In reality, it is not God stealing us away from our family, but our own choices. God wants us to live in a healthy balance, nurturing our family, creating a hunger for God, just as they hunger for food from the kitchen. It is sad to see families disintegrating, out of control, walking in rebellion, refusing to submit to the spiritual guidance needed to restore balance. Too many walk away from church altogether. The children, as they mature, adopt a new set of non-spiritual values and drift off into the attractions of the world around them. The chaos in the home spins them into the chaos of the world.

God’s plan is for a home centered in God and His love. I love what Erma Bombeck wrote in “If I Had My Life to do Over”: I would have talked less and listened more.
I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded. I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace. I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth…..
I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage. I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains. I would have cried and laughed less while watching television -- and more while watching life. I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband. I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day. I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime. Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle. When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, "Later. Now go get washed up for dinner."
There would have been more "I love yous", more "I'm sorrys" ... but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute...look at it and really see it ... live it...and never give it back.

How we choose to respond to the chaos of life makes our life. I am amazed as I read how the apostle Paul faced the chaos of ministry life. In 2 Cor 11:24-28 Paul lists the horrible experiences he faced… shipwreck, beaten five times, stoned with rocks, adrift at sea, dangers of travel, bandits, sleep deprivation, hunger and thirst and all the troubles of the churches as well. Is there chaos in your life? Paul kept it all in proper perspective. He knew strength came from difficulties. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor 12:10 NIV)

Is the storm of life tossing your boat? Remember the Master who is with you in the boat. He never leaves us alone in our chaos. He is there.

1.Turn to Him. Mat 11:28  Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

2. Trust God and His Word. God makes no mistakes, and His eternal plan is working for our good.

3.Thank Him in the chaos of life. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.1 Thess 5:18 Faith looks beyond the chaos to the coming calm.

Have you found your calm place in the chaos? Trust Him. Hold on. When peace comes, tell someone and let the glory of God shine hope into their circumstances.
J. Johnson

Praise reports and prayer requests…..

Pray for revival! Pray for those who are the midst of their storm of chaos.

Pray for the Johnsons as they seek a new place of full time ministry...a church that needs strong leadership. Praise the Lord for another great year at South Division High with Straight UP! Pray for grieving families who have lost loved ones...(the Arleen Johnson family 7-5-2010). Pray for Pastors, Evangelists, Missionaries, and Teachers. Pray for US Army Chaplain Steve Maglio

Pray for those needing a healing touch in their bodies: Bernie Dargiewicz (recovery from heart surgery) Dave Barth (cancer), Jim Brandon, (cancer) Diane Sherwin (cancer), L. Gardner (cancer). Pray for those dealing with chaos, anger, abuse, temptations and carnal sinful habits. Pray for the nation, for the President, for our service men and women, for Israel, for the unsaved, and don’t forget to Praise and thank the Lord!