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a BLOG by Pastor Ken Rickett

Just a few days ago I started a 3,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. When I opened the box and put all the pieces in 5 separate containers, my task was to bring order to the chaos.

First, I searched all the boxes for the straight edges that formed the perimeter. Then I studied the picture of the puzzle, and decided my next project was to find the pieces of the windows in two houses and put the windows together…since the two houses were different colors, I then searched for the pieces showing these dwellings and put them together. Then I did the same for a barn. The puzzle was a fall scene, so I found the pieces and put together the pumpkins, etc. Mind you, I haven’t yet finished a complete house, barn, or all the pumpkins. I haven’t even started putting the sunset sky nor the trees in the yard. It is that big of a chaos, and it will take a while to bring order to this awesome chaos. The family has no idea how long they will be without a dining room table as this massive puzzle awaits completion.

When God created everything, God brought order out of the existing chaos, first creating the heavens and the earth, then all living things. Primitive Hebrew language has no past tense, but a past perfect tense which implies ongoing action. The first verse of Genesis 1:1, in most Bibles, reads “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” but the better translation would be “From the beginning God was creating the heavens and the earth.” Creation continues. Actually, God brings order out of chaos. And bringing order is a basic function of everyday life.

Bringing order out of chaos is messy. If you don’t believe it, just look at my dining room table where I am attempting to put together that 3,000-piece puzzle. I literally have hundreds of pieces lying all around the few bits that I have already put together–let alone what is in the boxes. As I look at many of those pieces I laid out, thinking it might fit into that section of the puzzle (houses, barn, pumpkins), I now wonder what in the world I was thinking to lay some of those pieces out. You see, part of the chaos is that pieces that fit elsewhere in the puzzle can look incredibly like the pieces I really needed. Not all orange colors are pumpkins—have you ever seen a sunset scene that didn’t glow orange in paintings and color photos?

Bringing order out of that chaos is not only messy, but also slow and patient. A teenager dreams of becoming a medical doctor. What a huge puzzle that must be put together! College, med school, residency, and finally a medical practice. Throw in the financing of many years of schooling, obtaining dorms or housing, and putting food on the table. Talk about a slow process that needs a ton of patience to put such a puzzle together! Yet, invisible in this puzzle will be those moments of joy and celebration as well as disappointment and anguish, but bringing order out of chaos has those mental, emotional, and psychological highs and lows.

Life is about bringing order out of chaos. Not only in choosing a career path (a puzzle requiring much work and sacrifice), but also in marriage there is chaos seeking order. About the time a couple get a bit of order established, children come! Rearing them requires a constant, patient, and slow ordering of chaos if the children are to become mature adults. I like to think of the story of Job in the Old Testament as a glimpse into everyday life for all of us. There are times that we “lose” much that may be dear to us, bringing chaos and a need for re-ordering life. The three counselors of Job, faced with the task of helping Job re-establish order, were basically ineffective because they could not help envisioning a new picture of life (i.e., a new puzzle to be put in order). But eventually, with God’s help, order was restored but not “back to the same family and circumstance.” The task of putting life’s chaos in order is never about “going back”, it is about creating anew.

Ministry makes a huge difference in life, but sometimes ministry is “messy, chaotic!” You see, good intentions do not always have a good result. I once took a person to a facility that would feed, clothe, and help find a job. I thought, “Boy, this is ministry at its best!” Imagine my plunging “good feelings” when, just three weeks later, this person apparently decided that his unstructured life was not to be shaped by “providers of food, clothing, and jobs.” For some people, a re-ordering of life is “going back.” I learned that painful mental, emotional, and psychological scars can and will block all “helpfulness” and ministry. On the other hand, I once went on a mission trip to help re-build after a tornado. One lady who lived alone had some damage to her house, but it was salvageable. Her house had been built around an old log cabin that had been in her family for generations. While we had to cut and re-shape some of those old hand-hewn logs, we did not re-create what had been, but we re-created her house, including the part that was not the old cabin, with modern wiring, roofing, and even some appliances.

Bringing order out of chaos is always an act of creation.

So, what will happen to my 3,000-piece puzzle once I complete it? Well, I can congratulate myself and then take the puzzle apart piece by piece and put it back in the box, returning it to a state of chaos (maybe permanently if no one puts it together again). Or I can glue it, build a frame, and place a stiff backing on the backside so that the oversized puzzle will hold together, and then hang it on the wall (or give it away). BUT will my family let me “hog” the dining room table for a few more weeks so that I can do all these things–otherwise, I can’t even get the puzzle off the table without creating chaos (taking the puzzle apart)! And above all, I must decide if I really want to keep a 3,000-piece puzzle that will require that I remove from one entire wall all pictures and re-arrange furniture just to accommodate this monster! To put that thing on the wall is chaotic in itself! AND WHAT IF. . .once I hang this big puzzle on the wall, no one likes it! Even more chaos comes!

CHAOS! IT IS A PART OF LIFE! And so is creating anew!

What if a huge part of our spiritual journey is not seeking a higher spirituality, but what if our higher spirituality comes from our lifelong effort to bring order out of chaos and transforming life for ourselves and others into God’s kingdom on earth? After all, isn’t that what Jesus taught us to pray. . . and seek?