Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Climbing Out Of Chaos

At MTI (missionary training) we talked about the stages of transition for cross-cultural ministry.  The middle stage is called Chaos.  It’s that point when nothing about the new culture/country/language/way of life makes sense.

But (and this is the kicker!) there’s also the realization that “back home” is no longer the same.  Things have continued happening in the lives of the people there.  They are changing, just as I am, and I probably wouldn’t completely fit in there anymore, either.
So… nothing here makes sense, and in many ways my ‘old’ life doesn’t exist.  When that sinks in, well, Chaos is exactly how it feels! 

I’m so grateful for the SI-DR Leadership who recognized this and named it for me.  (Another part of Chaos is not even realizing you are in it.)  As they pointed out, Chaos is a normal part of this rather un-normal life to which God has called us.  Very honestly, that isn’t always a comfort, but it is good to know! 

I spent some time last week processing this, and planning some steps I can take to begin climbing out of Chaos.  Of course, like other stages and changes, it’s going to take some time!
In my last post, I talked about the hike my friend Brian and I took last week.  At one point, we climbed down a slippery path and then up a large rock to stand near one of the little waterfalls. 

Power, O God, belongs to You
As I drank in the beauty, I noticed movement on a branch far above the rushing water.  Looking closer, I saw several butterflies.  Their tiny wings caught the air and held them, first hovering, then flitting away, now flying back. 
The power of the water below contrasted with the delicacy of the butterflies above and brought to mind the words of Psalm 62:  Power, O God, belongs to You; unfailing love, O Lord, is Yours (11b-12a).

Yes, pretty much everything in my life feels out of control.  But, our powerful, loving God, who created things as different as crashing water and intricate wings, is with me.

In many ways, that hike – up rocks, down paths, sometimes sliding, even scraping my leg, feeling exhilarated at times, and then a little scared, mirrors my coming climb out of Chaos. 

Having a good friend to hike with was important for my safety – and enjoyment!  Having others here in the DR who’ve been through (or are going through) Chaos, as well as loving friends back home praying, is also important for safety and enjoyment. 

The reminders of God’s love and power give me hope and strength to persevere.  

Brian and I hiked on Good Friday.  The day Jesus suffered the ultimate Chaos, total separation from His Father.  No matter how chaotic my life may seem, the Father has never turned His face away from me.  Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, He never will. 

“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”  Oh, Jesus, how could you bear it?  Truly, all eternity will not be time enough to praise You for this gift!

Loving and powerful Father, You are at work, even in this Chaos.  Teach me to hold fast to You as the waves crash around me. 

Holy Spirit, so many are in Chaos, and don’t know the way – the Way, out.  Give me Your wisdom, Your words, I pray.

Thank you, Triune God, for the privilege of serving You.  I stumble and fall, I whine and complain, and yet, You allow me to be a part of Your work.  Melt me, mold me, break me, and fill me once more, as I seek to share Your Good News here where You have called me.
Almost unnoticeable, these tiny butterflies (center of picture)
reflect their Creator's skill - and remind us of His great love for little us.

I know that for some of you, reading this was difficult.  Difficult, perhaps, because you love me, and don’t want to see me in pain. 
Or, difficult because you are in Chaos yourself, and these words are threatening the façade you are expending tremendous energy to maintain.  I encourage… no, I urge you!, to find ways to connect with others in this. 

If you feel unable to carry yourself, allow others the privilege of lifting you up.  Invite others to pray with you and for you.  Oh, friends, prayer is powerful, powerful! 
Most importantly, bring all your feelings of Chaos and utter helplessness to the One who is loving enough and strong enough to take you through the storm.

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