Chaos. This word conjures up images for me of emergencies, people running and screaming, sirens blaring. I think of buildings burning or natural disasters or gunshots being fired. Yet, when we were at our month-long training in Colorado and they described the 5 stages of transition, we identified ourselves in stage 3 – CHAOS! That’s the actual, technical term for this stage of the process – Chaos. There’s “Settled”, where we’ve been the last 8 years at least. Then there’s unsettling (or uprooting), which we’ve been doing the last year or so. And then there’s Boom, CHAOS! And it doesn’t seem hyperbolic in the least for us to say that. Not from the physical safety sense of course – most of the chaotic situations I listed are primarily physical in nature, though they certainly entail emotional and psychological upheaval as well. But from the feeling in our lives of disarray, unrest, busyness, emotional toil, weariness, unfathomable logistics, hellos and goodbyes, on the road, living out of suitcases, sleeping on floors and couches and mix and matched kids in beds – Yeah, it’s been a little chaotic the last few months. And this was all God’s idea, we’re just trying to follow His lead, and yet we’ve endured sickness, conflict, grief and sadness and so much loss, as well as many, many unknowns. We’ve hit roadblocks and snags, and many frustrations along the way.
Our preparations were busy and frenetic, and we knew our entry into Uganda, and our overall life and ministry here are going to be an ongoing challenge. So the in between should be the calm before, or perhaps between the storms, right? Or so we thought …
The disciples and Jesus had been swamped – healing people, preaching, teaching, even feeding thousands on a shoestring budget one afternoon. Stress, challenges, weariness. So Jesus got in a boat to escape the crowds, get some rest, and head to the other side. But suddenly, a huge storm wreaked havoc on the boat and crew. It was pouring, the boat was on the verge of capsizing. It was CHAOS! And so where’s Jesus? It was His idea to get in the boat in the first place, but now he was asleep below deck. In one of the most chaotic, scariest moments in the disciple’s lives, Jesus was literally taking a nap. They ran to him (at least they know who to run to in times like these) and they woke him up. But not a gentle, Hey, sorry to bother you Lord. You know, one of those light pats on the shoulder because you don’t want to startle someone so much that they accidentally punch you in the face. No, this was one of those times where the asleep become the accused. Don’t you even care about us!? they barked at Jesus. I’m not sure if they were mad, or just scared out of their minds, or both. But Jesus doesn’t answer. I wonder what was in his head. Yes I care about you or I can’t believe you knuckleheads would even question that!. Either way, he doesn’t actually respond directly, which is kind of funny. He just gets up, tells the wind and storm to stop, and it does. I really want it to say that he returned to his quarters and fell back asleep. It doesn’t say that, but it does say that they marvel at this man who even commands nature to obey.
Their literal life-threatening storm in the boat was CHAOS. I love the version in Mark because it specifies at the beginning of the story that Jesus got in the boat and they followed Him. It wasn’t their brilliant idea that backfired on them. It was Jesus’ idea, his plan all along, and they were just following Him. So they went to Jesus, incredulous that a storm would be happening and he was seemingly inactive, and rather than ask for help explicitly, they accuse him of a lack of awareness or concern.
His words are crucial for us to hear. He says to the storm, “Peace, be still”. When kids are fussing and sinus headaches are creeping and task lists are growing – Peace, be still. When unknowns are lurking and culture-shock is imminent, and fitting our life into trunks and suitcases are exhausting – Peace be still. When goodbyes mean years before seeing a loved one again, and life is going to change in virtually every single way – Peace, be still.
You may or may not be experiencing chaos right now, but you will sooner or later. And when that happens, will you run to Him with accusing words, like Why did you allow this? or Why don’t you make it stop! or This was your plan after all, wasn’t it!? Or will you instead trust the Holy Spirit to call out to the storm and chaos in your heart – “Peace, be still”.