Divine Chaos

One of the more dramatic episodes of my childhood involves careering down a steep hill on my bicycle, with the chain dangling around the pedals. Having only foot brakes, it fell to my ability to steer the bicycle around various obstacles in the path, and hope that no vehicle would emerge from a side-street without due regard for my presence on the road. Being out of control in such a way with such significant dangers lurking still echoes in my mind over 30 years later. I still remember the feeling as I lay on the ground in my driveway, having crashed into the gate to bring myself to a stop.

There is something in each one of us with resists being out of control. We like to have a handle in some way on the unfolding of our lives. The path of powerlessness is not a choice we presume to take easily, particularly when the stakes increase. We like to prepare for all contingencies to ensure that we know how to react with calm consideration when threats appear.

The Moody Bible Institute in the 1970s posted instructions on what to do in case of "emergencies", which it defined as fire, tornado and air raid, bomb threat, emotional upset and/or suicide, sickness or injury, and "charismatic activity". The last item appears today as a slightly comical reminder of the way in which God likes to upset our routines. Any religion which is based on our ability to control, or tame God, and make Him behave according to our sense of comfort, order and dignity is merely a human creation, emptied of divine power.

Consider Elijah as he stood before the prophets of Baal; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego as they approached the fiery furnace; Peter on the day of Pentecost. God has a way of creating chaos out of our sense of order, moving us away from where we are comfortable towards the places where we are intimate with Him.

God is a God of order, not chaos - but a God of His order, not ours. Which means that occasionally He has to turn our order into chaos for the purpose of creating an order which reflects His purposes, rather than our own.

The sign at Moody Bible Institute creates an image for me of grabbing the spiritual fire hose to quench the emergency of "charismatic activity". May it be that we are prevented from quenching the moves of the Spirit in our own time, in whatever form they may come.

God knows we need some of His divinely-initiated chaos today.

January 28, 2001
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