Let's face it, the world feels a bit unhinged right now. Everywhere we turn we seem to be met with chaos. Josh Anderson, Pastor of Connection and Formation, shares some thoughts about how we don't have to fear the signs of change swirling around us. They are proof that God is steadfast at bringing order to the world and our lives.
By Josh Anderson, Pastor at theHeart
Benjamin Franklin once said death and taxes are the only two certainties in life. I feel like a lot of us are following this pessimistic adage these days. Sure, Franklin was an astute statesman. But let's not forget this is the same guy who proposed that we adopt the turkey as our national mascot.
There's an even older saying that perhaps you've heard said before: "The only thing that is constant is change." The ancient Greeks sure had a way with words, didn't they?
These words wax a bit philosophical, but perhaps Heraclitus's proclamation can still offer us some encouragement about the change we're experiencing today.
If ever there was a time when the certainty of change was on full display, it would be these last six-plus months navigating the pitfalls and obstacles of a worldwide pandemic. Doesn't it seem like every conversation, news story and social media post has something to do with the unrelenting nature of COVID-19?
We declare dates and promptly pass them. We move ahead boldly with our plans and quickly cancel them. And don't even get me started on the debate about wearing or not wearing masks. For a unique view on that, I invite you to read this recent post.
How many times have we found ourselves include "...but COVID" in a sentence? Perhaps more than we'd even like to admit.
I've talked to newlyweds whose weddings have been altered and honeymoons have been canceled, families whose vacations have been scrapped, and students, teachers, and administrators whose return to school has been filled with uncertainty and anxiety all because of this global health crisis. Not to mention all the lives that have been shattered by the devastating death toll. And yet I believe something holy is going on beyond all of this uncertainty, difficulty, fear, and despair.
This coronavirus is forcing us to realize that we're not in control. It's exposing our self-serving desires and self-righteous expectations. It's forcing us to be still. It's challenging us to look at ourselves in the mirror and face one another—even through a screen.
I don't know about you, but I always thought I was good with change. Turns out I'm not. Not at all.
Looking back on it now, perhaps my affinity for Transformer action figures isn't an accurate gauge of my appreciation for alteration. Twisting and turning Optimus Prime from a robot into a semi-truck doesn't really translate well in this instance, does it?
That's because when I'm honest with myself, change isn't easy. It's hard to admit, but the older I get, the more routine-driven I have become. My easy-going demeanor hides the fact that change oftentimes leaves me worried, weary, and flat-out worn out.
Worry Less. Surrender More.
What I have recently come to recognize is that so often I lean much too heavily on the crutch of my own understanding of the world around me. I try to wring confidence out of my circumstances rather than sit quietly at the foot of the cross.
That's because I've traded the joy of toys for the rigidity of comfort. I like things the way they are. I've grown to become inflexible to change and enslaved to a false sense of control. And I have settled into a lifeless routine of serving as my own savior.
During the quarantines, social distancing, and Netflix binge-watching, I have forgotten my true identity as a cherished child of God—a Heavenly Father who loves me and has plans for me to flourish. My preoccupation with the noise around me has distracted me from what's beyond. And I find myself worrying more and surrendering less.
The Apostle Paul's well-worn words to the church in Philippi come to mind:
Like the good, good Father he is, God wants me to experience his peace—quiet contentment that transcends all understanding. Time and again, God comes to my rescue. He proves himself faithful and steadfast by bringing divine order to worldly turmoil.
Order Out of Chaos
In the midst of our own personal chaos, it's easy to forget that God is all about bringing order to whatever is out of synch with his plans.
God's design establishes an orderly underpinning to our very existence. What began with the creation of the world, he continued with the formation of humans from the same dirt and with the same desire. That means you and I are descended from order, not chaos.
In the first chapter of Genesis, we read:
As believers, we need to remind ourselves and one another that God has a plan that involves a complete transformation that will eventually bring about a new heaven and a new earth. In the same way through Christ, you and I are being made new every day. So while the winds of change whip all around us, we can remain grounded in the foundation of God's orderly authority.
When we surrender our own understanding and choose instead to believe in God's loving rule, we can compassionately share this confidence with others in what we say and how we treat one another.
God is at Work
For centuries, God has been working to transform our broken lives and this chaotic world. Jesus' death on the cross and resurrection from the grave is even more proof of this trajectory towards redemption.
Still, it is in our human nature to be anxious. God knows that and he has given us a simple and loving lifeline. So instead of saying "...but COVID" we can confidently declare "...but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving I present my requests to God."
We don't have to fear change. And we don't need to fight for control. That's because through Jesus Christ, God has given us peace that transcends all understanding. And though change is in the air, this peace will guard our hearts and minds.
While our Sunday gatherings may be canceled, church isn't. That's because we are the church. We invite you to watch new videos in your homes with friends and family every Sunday starting at 10am. Or watch and worship on your own. Be reminded that we are all connected, and God is with us—wherever we are.
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