This is from a sermon I preached at the North West Coast Presbytery Meeting June 8th.
We see at the very beginning of Scripture God’s incredible creativity and desire to make order out of chaos. (Genesis 1) There are many days in my life that I would love for God to come down and create order out the chaos in my life! God loves to create and makes incredible masterpieces everywhere we look – flowers, animals, sunsets. My children also love to create and so I have little bits and pieces of paper, glue, tape, flower petals, bugs, dirt, and various unknown substances all over our house! I do not appreciate their creativity and creations quite as much as I should, I’m afraid. I just see a mess to clean up.
When Jesus left the disciples he gave them the mandate to teach people everything he taught them and to baptize them. (Matt. 28:18-20) It was a command with a promise… I am with you always, to the very end of the age. The pressure to learn from Jesus, teach others, baptize them and take that work to the ends of the earth can be overwhelming. But I cannot do it all on my own, and I don’t have to. That’s the good news of today. We are all called to learn, teach and share wherever we are and wherever God takes us. But it isn’t easy to keep it all together. There are many times when I take on too many things. And I cry out to heaven, “Lord, are you with me always??? Even today??? Can you make order out of this chaos?? I’ve got sermons to prepare and plane tickets to buy and study leave plans to make and it’s summer so I need to coordinate childcare and spend time with the kids… and… and… and…”
I’m reading a book by Nicole Johnson, “Creating Calm in the Center of Crazy.” She writes: “If I had a nickel for every time someone suggested balance as a solution for crazy, I could buy my own beam. It is terrible advice, not only because I don’t think balance is possible, but also because it’s impossible to balance things that aren’t equal. Now, if balance means steadiness or stability, more yoga, or just not falling down all the time, I’m good with trying to find more balance. But if balance means making life “balance out” as if it were a checking account — spending equal time working and not working, being with your kids as much or more as you’re away from them — then this advice is a problem, not a solution… When you can’t make a forty-pound kettle bell and a Cheerio balance, you feel worse than you did before you got the advice!”
We can’t possibly make life “balance out”, particularly when things don’t have equal value. Spending time with my kids is great, as long as I can focus on them and not be frustrated about the mess they are creating. Spending time at the church is great as long as the computer works properly and I don’t have too many crises and I can get out and do visits once in a while… But what I need more than anything is God’s presence and peace in the midst of the chaos.
We started going on walks by the river as a family recently. I imagined that it would be peaceful, together time. We could enjoy the beauty of God’s creation and get a little exercise. Instead, Paul doesn’t want to be in his stroller, so he’s crying and climbing out, Vivienne is too tired of walking and complains that we are going too far, there are bugs flying in our noses, and I end up wishing I was in the river! In spite of the frustrations and the unmet impossible expectations, we will keep going on walks by the river. It will get better. The complaining will lessen. The sore muscles will heal. The changes of seasons will change our perspective and our family. And we will continue to walk with God as a family. Our balancing act is not for the short term goal, it’s for long-term gain. We will spend time together even when it’s difficult. We will notice God’s creation. And we will share what we learn about God. That’s making disciples.