Publication:Pastoral Letter, October 2018
Dear Friend in Christ:
I want to share a principle with you that has been very helpful to me and others with whom I have ministered. The principle never fails, though we often we do. The good news is that when we fail, failure need not be final. The principle is how God uses chaos to bring in new order and new life (see Genesis 1; John 1). I have walked with some whose life was in chaos, and sometimes the conversation and chaos lasted for years. But in time and through the process, we’ve seen new life, and new eras emerge.
Genesis 1:2 tells us that a time came when “The earth was without form and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” Without form could properly be translated “chaos.” It was dark and without order. That is where God began and still does. He can work in chaos to create something right, peaceful, and joyful in the Holy Spirit (see Romans 14:17). Chaos happens when a season is over and transition is at hand. It may not be in the whole world; maybe it’s just in “our world” such as marriage, finances, or some other sector. It could an entire nation. But creation and new life can happen, and if we allow, a process will begin.
The Spirit of God Hovered
Genesis tells us that Holy Spirit hovered over chaos; He was there in the beginning. There have been many, many times in earth’s history when chaos came, not just at the beginning, but chaos is a beginning. It destroys the past, sometimes brutally and tragically. It leaves wreckage and sadness. Some see it as the end, but some find in it a new beginning. It really, really matters how we see it. If we see it as the end, we will likely die one way or another. If we see it as a new beginning, we can watch the Holy Spirit create something beautiful and a new era of life.
I would list numerous times in history when chaos came: the Flood, the Tower of Babel, the chaos in Ur of the Chaldees, the time of the Judges in Israel, the fall of Jerusalem in 587-586 BC, the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, the World Wars, and the Holocaust, just to name a few. But what is often missed is that the Holy Spirit hovered over the chaos to bring a new season. “God rules in the affairs of men.” To ignore the Holy Spirit is to miss and dismiss God’s creative purpose in our failure and how new eras come to be. These new eras begin with the work of the Holy Spirit in the chaos.
The Word Came
In the beginning, God “worded” or said. One of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is to issue the Word. Things change when the creating Word of God comes. Luke tells us that the Holy Spirit came upon Mary, and Jesus was conceived. John tells us that “in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” He goes on to say that “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us,” and that “the Word was full of grace and truth.” This all came from the presence of the Holy Spirit being upon Mary.
Chaos was occurring in Israel as they were rebelling under Roman rule; empty and blind religious leaders were in darkness. Chaos reached its pinnacle in 70 AD as Jews would be viciously slaughtered, even crucified. But the Spirit and the Word had come; a new era of God’s purpose was born out of awful chaos. The Church was born, announcing the kingdom of God.
John tells us that “Those that walked in darkness saw a great light…in Him was life and the life was the light of men.” God said, “Let there be light!” Light is the beginning of order and life. I cannot adequately define or describe light but it is far more than what we see. Light is the source of life, energy, healing, and so much more. It communicates, radiates, separates, and distinguishes between objects and ideas.
The Word began the separating process: waters above and waters below, light lifted the fog and brought clarity. Seas separated and dry land appeared. Light brought order to chaos; it still does. Light creates a safe habitat for life. Darkness is dangerous! When the blind lead the blind, they both fall into the ditch. So God’s Word separated night and day, light and darkness.
The Spirit and the Word brought light and life. Plants and animals were created; now earth was alive. “The house” was built; now it had occupants. The house was filled with activity. There was adventure and purpose, but something was missing: fellowship with the Creator. So God took some clay and made a man in His image, breathed divine life into him, and fellowship with God, the Creator began.
But God saw that man was alone, so He created a woman out of man and they two had fellowship and union in procreation, in order to fill the earth with life that could fellowship with God. Then, tragically, something happened.
It is not my purpose here to discuss how Satan beguiled Eve or how Adam willfully sinned, but to simply say that chaos came; sin brings chaos. Adam and Eve had to exit paradise. Chaos is the dark tunnel between the past and the future. They left the garden, but thankfully, God did not leave them. It was not the end, just the end of that era followed by a new beginning.
My point here is that God can and does work with chaos. Chaos is the end of something but if we listen, it will be the beginning of something new. That has always been true. It was true in Eden, the Flood, the fall of Jerusalem, the Holocaust, and throughout history. As chaos is cyclical, so are creation principles: the Spirit hovers, the Word comes, light comes, order comes, then new life is created and fellowship is restored.
In my own life, I got several close looks at chaos between 16-18 years of age. In one instance, I had a sudden bad case of road-rage very late one night and forced another driver into a service station at high speed. Fortunately, he missed the gas pumps. Finally, I pulled him off the road and he was angry. He weighed at least one hundred pounds more than me and had a gun in his car. There were other occasions before I finally “saw the light.”
Because I have seen and even experienced chaos up close, very close, I was equipped to walk with others in their chaos; I think that is ministry. One example is a minister who lost it all through alcohol and other issues. He is my spiritual son. I walked and talked with him for five years as he was experiencing his own chaos. Finally, the Word, the light, new order, and new life came; now, he has ministered to thousands in their chaos.
Another example is close friend and spiritual son who experienced tremendous financial loss; he and his family went through serious health issues, and he seemed forsaken by many that he had helped to be successful. His chaos lasted seven years as we walked and talked together. But then the Word came, light came, new order and new purpose came, friends returned, and out of chaos finally came exciting new life.
Yes, there is only one original creation, but the principles behind it continue throughout history. We can learn how God deals with chaos if we invite Him, the Creator, to enter our chaos. Then we can become a “bridge over troubled waters” for others if we remember our own chaos and how God worked in it to give us new life.
One of our challenges as believers is to remember our own chaos. Thank God that it is over! But if we forget, then our attitude toward those who are in chaos can become self-righteous. In that case, we will be of no help to those still there. We need to remember that we did not save ourselves. We need to remember how those who helped us did so. What was their attitude?
Another challenge is to realize that though God delivered us and gave new life, we are not God. He is the Creator. The Word, the light, new order, and new life must become personal to the one in chaos. When we “play God”, it harms the process. We can model, share our own experience when appropriate, but it is God who is at work in their lives, just as He was in ours.
It has been a hard lesson for me to learn that I cannot impose “my wisdom” on someone just because I care. I can love, listen, and walk with them, but the Holy Spirit does the convicting, converting, and transforming.
Some would say that because they have faith, they will never have chaos. Yes, faith will certainly help prevent chaos, and of course, so does obedience to the Word of God. Should we therefore say that all of those who are in chaos are there because of lack of faith or obedience? I think not. That conclusion only condemns those who need our love and patience.
Is the Devil the author of confusion and chaos? Yes. But has God ever brought people into chaos in order to deliver them from deception or sin or old way of thinking? Yes, He has. We may never know the real source of someone’s chaos. But we can work with God to see a new life emerge—if we are sensitive to the Holy Spirit and the person who is that very difficult state.
Jesus called the Holy Spirit the “Parakletos”, the One Who goes along beside, pleads another’s cause, the counsel for the defense, and intercessor. We are not the Holy Spirit, but we can allow Him to give us that attitude. We are certainly not the judge either.
What can we do in someone else’s chaos or even our own? “Wait on the Lord and be of good courage” (see Psalm 27:14). We can encourage—strengthen the heart. We can affirm good decisions; we can listen, be there, identify with, and love until the Word and light comes. Is there a time to withdraw? Yes, but if we do withdraw, let it not be to forsake, but to give the Holy Spirit a little more time and room to complete His work.
My parents finally “gave me to God.” When they gave up trying to change my attitude, God did some of His best work in my chaos. They always loved me enough to know when their task was complete and God’s work was necessary. Praise God! He can create new life out of chaos!
P.S. Please remember us in your prayers and giving during October as we face many opportunities and challenges before the end of 2018. We depend upon the Lord and friends like you to continue in our mission: Embracing Truth with Our Lives. Also, mark your calendar now for May 14-16, 2019—the CSM Gatlinburg Leadership Conference! Our theme will be “Spirit & Truth”. For news, photos, and updates, see our Charles Simpson Ministries Facebook Page and follow us on Twitter @CSMinPublishing. Also, please visit our store on our website for regularly updated ministry resources!
Scripture Referenced: Genesis 1; John 1; Romans 14:17
Charles Simpson is an internationally-known author, Bible teacher, and pastor, serving in ministry since 1955. He is also Editor-in-Chief of One-to-One Magazine and ministers extensively throughout the United States and the nations.