Uncovering the Calm in Chaos

At least once a week I sit and find a calm moment on a bench dedicated to a godly woman I never met, Kaye Shipley. I came to know who she was through her husband, Mark, who didn’t know me, but still drove out of his way to pick me up in St. Louis. Oddly, I met him again in the parking lot of the national WMU building in Birmingham, Alabama. That’s how I learned about the family connection to the bench in the memorial garden at our office.

I’ve since learned that Kaye loved missions and missionaries. She seemed to understand the brevity of life because her life verse was 2 Corinthians 4:7 (NIV), “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 

Even in chaos, Christians should remember that it is God who gives us life,
and we are wise when we live it to serve His purpose.

Much of life moves beyond our control, and that may cause us discouragement. We long to find our places of service, but they often seem to be in jars of clay. It hit me hard yesterday. My husband and I have returned from overseas to live in a “new” country. These United States have changed in 28 years, and we are readjusting. 

When chaos comes, we can remain calm when we know our purpose.

Yesterday I thought about the elephant trainers in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Turning an elephant around is a difficult job. It takes the trainers’ time and patience. They’ve learned to do it, but I’m sure they get tired of it. Still, it is their calling, so they do it.

God may call us to turn an elephant around.

That’s how I’ve experienced the work that God calls me to do. It’s somewhat like being one of those elephant trainers. I usually find His work rewarding and challenging. I like to keep a sense of excitement and a feeling of purpose. However, there are days when I just look at my elephant and think, Who cares? If my elephant wants to stay headed in that direction, why don’t I just let him stay that way? Why am I getting all worked up about it anyway? Other people don’t seem to care that my elephant is heading in that direction, so why should I care? Though we face frustrations when our work is difficult to accomplish, we know that God will hold us accountable for the work He has called us to do. When we continue doing that work, even in chaotic times, we can remain calm knowing that He is in control.

God will not leave us.

The trainers told us that each trainer learns to communicate with his own elephant. They said the elephant gets depressed and sometimes doesn’t survive if he is assigned a new trainer. So these men commit to spending most of their lives with just one elephant. The relationship between the elephant and the trainer allows a greater work to be accomplished.

As I spend time with Christ each day, I too learn to hear and to know His voice, just as the elephant knows his trainer’s voice and the sheep know their shepherd’s voice (John 10). He directs me through chaotic times, and I can depend on Him. He will never leave me (Hebrews 13:5, John 14:18).

We can find calmness in chaos when we know that wherever we are, God directs our paths. The work belongs to Him, and as He works through us, He will be the one to turn the elephant for us (Deut. 20:1-4). Our job is to do what He wants us to do (Acts 1:7-8). 

Claudia Johnson, CWLC Leadership Consultant