I’ve had several moments when I thought my life was in shambles. Nothing was working out the way I planned. I felt like I was at least one step behind with everything I was doing. I was dropping the ball on many of my responsibilities. My relationships with the people I cared about were suffering. I was struggling to find direction and purpose. I was getting news about all of the intense situations happening in the lives of the people around me. And my bedroom was a disaster, which is usually a pretty good indicator of how I’m doing overall. It was absolute chaos.
As far as I was concerned, the most logical solution was to press the restart button. I wanted to run away somewhere far (and warm) where nobody knew who I was. I wanted to quit everything that had anything to do with responsibility so that I would never be overwhelmed again. No expectations, just living life. No more trying to make a difference. No more letting anyone down. And certainly no more chaos because there would be nothing that could get messed up.
Of course this solution is completely illogical and impossible, but that’s how I felt. Running away from your problems accomplishes nothing because most problems are within. We can’t control what happens to us, but we can control our response to what happens. No matter what, no matter where you go, if the issues are unresolved or if you haven’t learned the lesson you needed to learn from a given situation, the same things will manifest right where you are. Even on an island by yourself, you’d still be insecure about your looks if you’re insecure now.
It’s amazing how we can look at the same thing a thousand times and still find something new every time. In one of my life-in-shambles moments, I happened to be reading a familiar story from the Bible: The creation story from Genesis. We’ll start right at the beginning of the book.
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty; and chaos covered the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the deep waters. Then God said, “Let there be light.” And there was light.” ~ Genesis 1:1-4
After this, God continues to speak a series of “Let there be” statements and whatever He says goes. Everything He speaks becomes a reality. What struck me in re-reading this story is what God was working with in the beginning. The canvas he started with was formless, empty, and covered in chaos. Read it again. That’s what it says. You’d think it would make more sense for God to throw out the formless, empty, chaotic world and start from scratch, creating things out of nothing. But that’s not at all what He did. He took a hopeless situation and formed it. He spoke order into it and cause it to take shape.
Everything we see around us in nature: Breathtaking sunsets like the one in the picture to the right that God gave me a few nights ago at the driving range, majestic mountains, the powerful rolling rivers, flowers that cause you to stop and take notice, birds, bees, animals… and even you and I are made out of chaos that God took and reshaped. God is in the business of taking despair and giving it meaning and life.
In the moments when your life seems shapeless and void and chaos is covering every aspect of your life… even the deepest places of your heart… there’s hope. Again, the interesting thing about the Genesis account of creation is that God never removes the chaos. Instead He uses it and turns it into something beautiful. All it takes is one Word from God; one “Let there be” statement, and everything in your life must begin to come into alignment and take shape. Instead of running from the pain and hurt we experience, we need to learn to treat it how God does. Learn how to speak into situations and to shape the tough moments into something beautiful. I can testify to the truth of this because every time I speak at a school and mentor students I’m using some of the difficult situations to help them move forward in their lives. And that’s just one example. When life gives you lemons, there’s a lot more than lemonade that you can make. Some people see the challenge in every opportunity; others see the the opportunity in every challenge. Find those opportunities even in the darkest and emptiest moments.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” ~ Ecclesiastes 3:11