The Day the Bottom Fell Out of Everything

The Arrival
It was a Sunday to remember! Jo and I awoke early after a fitful sleep that first night in the main Canela village. Rain woke several times as it blew in through the open holes in the mud walls, still without shutters. We were exhausted after the 4-day, 75-kilometre trip, and from unloading three metal drums and dozens of cardboard boxes from the truck the day before.

Unloading Six Months Worth of Supplies

So Far So Good
I started a fire outside the back door between three large stones to boil water in a black cast iron pot, so Jo could make coffee and breakfast porridge. Our three pre-school daughters were still fast asleep in their hammocks, worn out from days of riding on top of the truckload of cargo. Porridge bowl in hand, I asked some Canela men to bring lots of thin palm canes to make shelves.

The Problem
After setting up our only furniture—six small wooden stools—and building some makeshift shelves and tables, the chaos began. I picked up a box of food and, two steps later, all the food dropped out the bottom scattering on the floor. The same thing happened to Jo with a box of medicines. Huh? What? Then it hit me.

The Explanation
Construction of our mud walled, palm thatch roofed house was still going on the Saturday we arrived, so the packed earth floor was still damp, and the moisture had soaked into the bottom of all the cardboard boxes standing everywhere on the floor. That clarified the problem. But it solved nothing.

No matter how careful we were, the boxes kept coming apart. Rolls of film, bottles of medicine, boxes of pills, stack of paper, books, and packages of soup, everything was loose and mixed up with everything else. Our girls crawled on the floor, picking things up one by one, and sorting them in little heaps on shelves. Shelves! We need more shelves! We couldn’t live there, let alone minister to anyone, until we had created some order out of the chaos.

Genesis to the Rescue
A passage from Genesis 1 popped into my mind. “The earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep.” God looked at the mess and began to create some order. He sorted light from dark, night from day, sky from earth, and land from water. I felt a kinship with my Creator as I sorted my jumbled clutter into separate, orderly piles and stacks of food, medications, study supplies, equipment, and clothes, etc.

More Bible Teaching
“God is not the author of confusion, but of order,” is how Paul summarized his teaching to the church in 1 Corinthians 14:33-40. God constantly creates order. The Israelites leaving Egypt were a confused mob. God created order at Sinai, from there, they marched out in tribes, each in their allotted location. Before Jesus miraculously fed the unruly crowd, he ordered his disciples to make people sit in orderly groups of fifties and hundreds.

The Scientific Principle
Let’s face it, the second law of thermodynamics operates everywhere in the universe, even in the homes of Christians. Disorder tends to increase. Time schedules become skewed, pantry shelves get disorganized, and our good intentions fade away into failure.

On returning home from an extended family visit or ministry trip, it takes Jo and me days to get things re-organized. Critical things like glasses, keys, and power cords hide themselves the moment I turn my back on them.

God’s Will
God wants us to order our lives, so we have regular places and times to work, regular times of sleep, food, rest, and relationships. Frequent times of celebration with others, as well as silence and solitude. Jesus often went off by himself out into the hills to pray, to think, to plan. The Holy Spirit works through order. He blesses others through us when our lives are in order.

When we see an OUT OF ORDER sign on a gas pump or an ATM, we know they are useless. So, what makes us think we can be a source of blessing to anyone if our own lives are in a state of chaos, ready for an OUT OF ORDER sign?

It’s not just about having a place for everything and putting everything in its place. We need to look at every aspect of our lives and ministry for evidences of disorder, confusion and muddle, and create order. Are we punctual, or do others have to wait for us? Do we drive our vehicles in a way that confuses others? Do we have workable and effective routines?

Questions to Ask Before We Act
We need to ask ourselves,“What area of my life bothers me the most? Where has the bottom fallen out of it?”
Then, let’s do what our Creator God did as His first act of creation.
Stop everything, and first, create order out of the chaos.