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Living Intentionally in Times of Chaos and Calm

One day we are celebrating my husband’s birthday comfortably around a campfire, the next, we're tucked inside hiding from the cold, wind and snow.

This is springtime in Manitoba.

Weather varies between warm, sunny days, and cloudy days laden with freezing temperatures and snow. The mudroom is an eclectic blend of kids’ snow boots and sandals, toques and ball caps, snow pants and splash pants. It’s probably the season requiring the most diverse clothing.

Just as we assess our clothing choices before walking out the door, believers must prepare our hearts and minds in the Word before stepping into our world. It's an important daily choice no matter the present theme of our life. We experience calm and almost mundane routine some days, then others where we endure deep valleys or swirling chaos. Each moment has its own timing, its own purposes, and its own warnings.

In the calm, beware of complacency

Stepping out of our mud house each day in sub-Saharan Africa, there wasn’t much preparation needed. Snagging a pair of flipflops and a headscarf as I passed through the doorway, were all I needed for a stroll in the beautiful tropical climate.

The only seasons were hot… and hotter.

When life follows a pattern of regularity, like a clock ticking away the seconds, we move almost unconsciously into the familiar routines. If we’re not careful though, complacency drifts toward laziness, and a season meant to be a gift can slug along carelessly.

The church in Laodicea had become complacent. In Revelation 3 we encounter Christ imploring them to turn away from their pride of self-sufficiency and, instead, open the door to him again. See, they thought they were rich, that they had everything they ever needed (3:17). Comfortable with what they had attained, the church was becoming lukewarm: useless and ineffective.

Jesus’ invitation is that they would find their treasure in his riches, clothing to cover their spiritual nakedness from his wardrobe, and healing ointment to open their spiritually blind eyes. In repentance, they would remember their true identity in him, and find restoration of their purpose in relationship with him.

So it is with us. The seasons of calm are a gift to us. They offer us time and space for our roots to dig deep, strengthening the foundation of our faith and knowledge in the work and person of Christ. He is our greatest treasure. Finding our purpose and our hope in him each day will take our feelings of insignificance and our tendency toward laziness and infuse them instead with purpose, to live a life that glorifies God and brings good to others.

When you look back on seasons of calm, did you become complacent? What can you do to dig deep instead of drifting?

In the chaos, beware of confusion

Our move back to Manitoba, brought us back into a world of varying weather. No more walking out to constant sunshine, palm trees and sand. It meant learning to dress properly, preparing for shifts in temperature.

My son, two years old then, went out one of those first days to help his dad shovel the sparkling white snow on the driveway…with no footwear, socks included.

No, that white stuff was not white sand, as he believed, and despite my warnings, he ran out the door heedlessly, only to turn right back, startled (and confused) by his first experience with the freezing cold of Canada.

The chaotic seasons in life take many shapes and sizes. What’s common to them all is the adjustments we need to make in order to survive our day. When it’s a medical crisis, we navigate appointments and treatments. If it’s a job change or move, our activity shifts to the logistical needs of packing and paperwork.

Suddenly, more tasks pile onto our plate and sifting through the list dissolves our moments to pause, as the urgent pressing needs take precedence. In the shifting sands of our circumstances, we find our emotions running high, we’re short-tempered, lost in the lack of control we feel. There’s information bombarding us, and we’re lost in all the confusion.

The early church faced times of crisis, particularly in the form of persecution. While their brothers and sisters in Christ were being hauled off to prison or imminent death, Peter encouraged them even in all the trials and suffering, to live rightly according to the model of Jesus, who “himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24).

Times of chaos are entirely unsettling. Yet, the gospel teaches us that when life seems to run amuck, there remains steadfast truth and steadfast hope. The gospel brings order to our chaos by pointing us to Jesus, his life, death and resurrection, who modelled obedience for us to emulate as we walk through our own seasons of turmoil.

We may feel caught up in the whirlwind, but we can plant our feet firmly on the foundation of truth we find in his Word, and choose to live in obedience.

How have times of crisis led you into confusion? What areas of your life need steadfastness?

The stepping stones of maturity

When you’re in the thick of a crisis, there’s not usually many moments to stop and invest hours in bible study and scripture reading. When our daughter was hospitalized, then nearing death, leaving her room for personal devotions wasn’t on the top of my list. But what had been firmly etched in my mind, through the disciplines practiced in the months of calm before, came out in my prayers, in my faith and my trust, of God’s goodness and sovereignty.

Maturing in our faith means taking time in the Word, in fellowship and in prayer. It’s not a task we want to put on hold only for the moments of need. The foundation is laid, but we participate in it’s completion by growing in the means of grace God has given us. We draw near to him and to his people.

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving” (Col 2:6-7)

So, when you find yourself enjoying the predictability of routine, may you dig deep instead of drift, and when the storms of life come raging, may you remain steadfast.

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