05 Sep God’s Presence in the Chaos
As I write this blog, Hurricane Dorian is off the coast of the southeastern United States battering the coastline with 120-mile an hour winds and dumping torrential amounts of rainfall. The pictures coming out of the Bahamas, where Dorian struck earlier this week as a Category Five hurricane, have shown horrific scenes of total devastation—tractor trailers strewn like matchbox cars, houses and buildings reduced to rubble, chest-deep water in the streets.
Once again Mother Nature puts us in our place. We are not in control of Dorian. We can prepare, we can respond, but we have no power to alter its path, change its speed, or diminish the combination of wind and water it unleashes.
It is ironic that this Sunday I will be starting a new sermon series called Walking Wet. Over the next several weeks we will be looking at the role water plays in our lives and our faith. The very first sermon in this series deals with the waters of creation which started as waters of chaos. Little did I know when I planned this series that images of chaotic water let loose would be filling our screens as I prepared to preach it.
One of the most potent truths that has been meaningful to me is the realization that God was—and still is—present in chaos. Chaos does not indicate the absence of God, though it sometimes feels that way to us. When life gets turned upside down, we can feel alone and isolated. Perhaps we think no one understands what we are going through or how sad or lonely we are. We might be embarrassed or ashamed to admit that we are struggling, that we can’t overcome the chaos in our lives. We sometimes need to be reminded to look up and pay attention because we are, in fact, not alone. God is with us.
It also helps me to remember that God actually does some of God’s best work in the midst of chaos. It is from chaos that new life can emerge. This does not diminish the pain of chaos or the struggle new life often entails. But it is a good reminder that chaos does not last forever. Hurricane Dorian will eventually go the way of other storms. It will move off the coast, it will dissipate and break apart, and eventually the winds and rain will stop. And from the wreckage that it leaves behind, there will arise new beginnings. That does not mean that everything will go back to “normal,” back to the way it was. Some buildings will get rebuilt, but others will not. Some people may choose to go in a different direction with their lives rather than return to their homes and businesses. In some instances, these new opportunities and choices will be welcomed, blessings that emerge unexpectedly from the devastation of a storm. For them, new hope and vision will arise from the loss and grief. For others, the loss and grief will be harder to overcome, the options more limited. So much of living is about how we recover from the difficulties that thrust themselves upon us, how we embrace—or not—the “new normal” that descends in our lives.
Let us continue to pray for all those in the path of Dorian, to respond with help when and where we are able, and to reflect upon those areas in our own lives that invite us to embrace new life from the waters of chaos.
Yours for the Kingdom,