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Quit the Chaos

Quit the Chaos

The week after Easter, my wife Autumn and I had an honest conversation. She did the talking and I the listening, but let me tell you, it was effective! She told me she felt our family life was too chaotic mostly due to the fact I’d been working too much. She needed me to work less so I could be more emotionally present. I tried to defend myself by reminding her being a pastor is like being a teacher: you have very grueling seasons in the fall and spring but things slow down after Christmas and during the summer. Nevertheless she was right, I needed to slow down and refocus more attention onto my family. I’m now moving in that direction.
What about you: what is the pace of your family life nowadays? How would you describe the current state of your family? Chaotic? Stressful? Peaceful? Happy?
As a pastor I’ve experienced and observed that chaos is a serious home wrecker! Webster’s Dictionary defines chaos as “complete confusion and disorder: a state in which behavior and events are not controlled by anything.” For too many of us, our family lives are chaotic. Everyone is coming and going without knowing anyone else’s schedule. Parents are yelling at kids, kids are yelling at parents: no one’s in charge. You’re always juggling too many balls and dropping them, leaving you frantic and anxious.
Chaos is perhaps best described in the children’s book “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” The little monkeys fail to obey their mom and just keep jumping, falling off and bonking their heads!
Yet the Bible is clear: God does not want us to live this way since He’s a God of order. In fact the Bible starts by declaring “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep…And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light” (Gen. 1:1-3).
Out of chaos, God created order and structure. The Bible emphasizes this idea repeatedly. One prominent example is found in Romans 13:1: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” Bible scholar John Stott explains: “all human authority is derived from God’s authority.”
Therefore God establishes order within governments, churches and families, to name a few examples. Governments have presidents and prime ministers. Within churches, God gives authority to elders to lead and serve the family of God. If you don’t have authority and order, there will be chaos, rebellion and destruction. Within a family, God has given parents authority to lovingly teach, oversee and lead their children. Otherwise, the children will run rampant.
I can tell you from the Scriptures, from personal experience, and from observation, chaos is always creeping: it attempts to seep into our government, churches and families and wreak havoc. If you find something unhealthy, it is most likely disordered; it in not aligned with God’s perfect order.
So then, how do we make things right and keep things right?
In Romans 13:1 the Apostle Paul says, “be subject,” which is the word “submit.” Bible scholars tell us that in the first century this word “was a Greek military term meaning “to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader”. In non-military use, it was “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden”. Paul says: Fall in line! Voluntarily give in and cooperate with God’s established order. Because God established order, his people are to fall in line. Wherever God has granted authority, his people are to submit to it. Obviously there are times when people are to perform civil disobedience (that’s in the Bible too!) but that’s another column altogether.
Now, let’s put the rubber on the road. Say your family is chaotic: the monkeys are jumping on the bed. How do you implement order?
First repent of surrendering to the chaos rather than surrendering to God’s order. Tell God you are wrong and sorry and want to make things right. When Autumn confronted me about my failure, that’s what I did. You cannot make changes unless you acknowledge things are broken and ask God for help.
Second, submit to God’s order. Start by asking some diagnostic questions: Is God at the center of you family? Are we praying together and reading the Bible together? Is there a lack of time between parents and children? Find what’s lacking and address it.
Romans 8:6 says, “the mind governed by the Holy Spirit is life and peace.” If we follow God’s plan, our families will be governed by the Holy Spirit and experience HIS life and peace.

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Pastor Paul Hoffman