Have you ever left a worship service and walked smack dab into your pastor’s sermon illustration?
Maybe you’ve watched a message online, finished a Bible study session, or closed the covers on a devotional book only to realize that your life is a laboratory for the very lessons you’ve been hearing or reading about.
Life imitating art. Or maybe life simply being the beautiful, complicated mess that it is.
For the past few Sundays, our pastor has been delivering a series called “Out of Chaos.”
As I’ve listened to Chris’s messages, I’ve been thinking of the chaotic situations many of you have shared with me recently.
Peg and Lindsay* (some names changed), diagnosed with untreatable, life-altering diseases, who feel as if the bodies that cradled them from birth are failing them now.
Lisa, whose grandbaby – the only one she might ever have - may not live until birth.
Sharon, who has just started a challenging new job at the age she had hoped to retire.
Jessica, whose daughter now insists on being called her son.
Amanda, Nancy, and Meghan, who are wading through the mire of insurance adjusters and mold remediation after their homes were flooded.
Are you dealing with chaos right now, too? Maybe on the surface things look ok, but mentally you’re plodding through a myriad of messy rooms each more disordered than the last. You rush to plug a hole in one place in your life only to spot a leak in another.
As Pastor Chris commented this past Sunday, “The greatest chaos we may experience is not external – war, flood, fire, mass shootings – but that which takes hold in us so that we become a part of the problem.”
I was thinking of you – all of you – when I shared Deb Gruelle’s “Psalm of the Desperately Waiting” last week. I am waiting with you in the hard places, friends.
So that’s why this week we need to go back to the beginning – to the Book of Beginnings. Only two verses in, we read this: “The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.”
Chaos is not always a messy home, tangled relationships, medical complexities, or a disordered mind. Sometimes chaos is formless, empty, a deep void. Spiritual darkness. You might feel you can’t make sense nor shape of any of the circumstances around you.
But here’s the truth I’ve been camping out on this past week.
In the midst of the chaotic nothingness of the cosmos, God’s spirit was there, hovering, mothering His creation.
“He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” Psalm 91:4
Out of chaos, God created.
Out of darkness, God illuminated.
From absolutely nothing, God breathed into being a great good Something.
“God’s spirit was hovering over the waters,” Chris reminded us, “when there was nothing. Something amazing was about to happen, but not just yet.”
If you are struggling to make sense of the darkness surrounding you – things you cannot see your way through – please return with me to the first tenet of our faith.
In the beginning, God.
When there was nothing, there was God.
That difficult situation of yours? The terribly vexing one in which nothing appears to be happening? The Spirit of God —creator, winged nurturer, comforter — is with you, hovering over the turbulent waters of your life.
“How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings…” Jesus, Matthew 23:37
Something amazing is about to happen, friends, though maybe not just yet.
Until it does, remember that God makes beautiful things from nothing but dust.
And let’s sing this song of hope together.
- Maggie Wallem Rowe, 2022
“Hope is springing up from this old ground Out of chaos life is being found, in you”
Beautiful Things, by Michael Gungor
Maggie Wallem Rowe is an author, speaker, and dramatist who writes from Peace Ridge, her home in the mountains of western North Carolina.