Controlled Chaos, God’s Work, and Our Work

On Monday Night Football this past week, color commentator John Gruden called a specific strategy of one of the teams “controlled chaos.” Strictly speaking, the words are an oxymoron since chaos, by definition, is uncontrolled.

However, the sense of the words is clear. It is that something has the appearance of chaos but, in fact, is following a planned course (like the team’s strategy).

Gruden’s use of “controlled chaos” brought to mind the work of God in creation. God, in creation, was not involved in “controlled chaos” but in creatively bringing order out of chaos. God took that which was formless, void and darkness and spoke into it the order of creation (Genesis 1).

That creation was not a merely gray and functional universe but one with dazzling colors, varying textures, assorted shapes and sizes, extravagant diversity and innumerable creatures. Psalm 19 and Romans 1 describe how this creation continuously cries out the reality and glory of this creative Creator God.

This should be exciting. Why?  Because verses Genesis 1:26-27 says you were made in God’s image and one aspect of that image is creativity. Oftentimes people will say they are not creative; they are left brain people—logical, rational, and analytical. I am that way myself.

But I believe that everyone by virtue of being an imager of God is creative; I just think our definition of creativity is too limited. We tend to restrict it to the visual and performing arts so that if you can’t draw or paint or you can’t act or sing or play an instrument you think you are not creative. It is true that some people are more creative than others but no one is utterly without creativity.

If you have raised or are raising children you exhibit a deep well of creativity in the process. Think of all the roles you fill—doctor, lawyer, judge, cook, teacher, mentor, policeman/woman, chauffeur,  counselor, manager, encourager, provider, protector, role model, etc. Many of these things cannot be done without a considerable degree of resourcefulness and ingenuity.

You are a creative person!

What that means is that one way you can look at the purpose of your life is to see it as imaging God, glorifying Him, by creatively bringing order out of chaos.

You know the story of the fall. Man rebels against God by eating of the tree, sin enters the creation, and with it comes chaos in four areas in which there was harmony before.  Man now experiences separation from God (spiritually), separation from others, (relationally), separation from himself (mentally and emotionally), and separation from his environment (environmentally). Chaos abounds in each of these areas (see Genesis 3).

That is why your calling is to glorify God by creatively bringing order out of chaos. That bringing order out of chaos is to take place in every area—spiritually, relationally, mentally/emotionally, and environmentally.

Let me give an example by returning to the idea of parenting. As cute and as innocent looking as a baby is, that baby has one maxim: “It’s all about me.” The baby cannot rationally express that idea but his/her every action screams its truth (sometimes literally).

This is because that innocent baby is not really innocent but is born with original sin. As that baby grows, that sin nature begins to express itself in sinful actions. Sometimes when you ask your child, “Why did you do that?” they say, “I don’t know” because they really don’t. The sin nature in them causes them to be chaotic in understanding and action.

Your calling as a parent is to glorify God by creatively bringing order out of that chaos.  Sometimes it calls for lavishly expressed affection, sometimes it calls for lovingly expressed discipline, as well as thousands of other things. But the end is the glory of God exhibited in a child who is learning to bring order out of the chaos in his/her life.

This example could be multiplied by the thousands and you need to think through what it means in your situation in your home, at your job, in your leisure, in your church. This can be a helpful perspective through this New Year. To glorify God by creatively bringing order out of chaos—how will you do it this year?


About Dr. John H. Harbison

Son of God, Husband, Father, Author of "Keeping Christ in Ministry,"Vice-President for Academic Affairs, College Pastor, Runner, Writer
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