Embrace the Chaos

by Editor on January 3, 2014

We are happy to welcome guest writer Michael Andrzejewski to A Life Overseas. As you read his story take a moment to be aware of the gift of chaos on your life right now. How can you embrace it as the divine provision that it is?

Michael Andrzejewski Embrace the Chaos dinner plates

Normally supper starts out calmly at our house. We gather around the table, fill our plates with food, someone thanks the Lord, and we eat. Old fashioned family dinner. 

It happens almost every night. We don’t eat in front of the TV. We still eat at the table. Together. 

It reminds me of eating with my grandparents as a kid, but I’m not as ornery as Papa used to be.

We talk about how our day went. We talk about tests and homework and activities and everything that involves the logistics of a family of seven.

Then, about the time that I’m dismissing myself from the table, it spirals into chaos.  Pleas of “Don’t leave me alone!!” have known to come from my wife.

Movie lines are recited. Imitations are done. And, there’s a bunch of, “…then, he was like….and I was like….and then she was like…” followed by howling and cackling.

Chaos. Joyful chaos, born out of a genuine desire to spend time together and be around one another. 

I confess. I don’t always deal well with it. From the comfort of another room, I’m heard yelling about inside voices and stuff being broken.

Chairs slide across the kitchen, music gets turned to 11, and five kids sing and do dishes and sweep, all while goofing off. With the door shut it sounds like a bar fight. Every now and then it gets pretty close to that, without the booze.

Kids aren’t perfect and neither am I, but I’m trying to learn to embrace this chaos. I’m not going to try to harness the energy or teach a lesson or boss anyone around. I want to try to ride the wave because I know that one day it won’t always be like this.

One of these days, the manna’s going to disappear. And, it’s not coming back. 

I would’ve loved to taste that bread from heaven. The bread of angels. It was so new and so original that the Israelites named it something akin to “doohickey” or “thing-a-ma-jig.”

Manna. It was never seen before and unless it makes a special appearance at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, it probably will never be seen again. It is a perfect type of the Lord Jesus. It was sent from heaven and definitely has a palpable saving quality to it.

But they got tired of it. They got sick of it and started asking for meat. They wanted more. They wanted better. Numbers 21:5 says that they loathed the “light bread.” They fussed and complained until God sent them what they wanted, along with a side of consequences.

The Psalmist tells it better than anyone else I’ve ever heard.

“Then believed they his words; they sang his praise. They soon forgot his works; they waited not for his counsel: But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.” (Psalms 106:12-15)

With a little pairing of the Scriptures, it comes out like this: 

  • They believed his words but forgot his works.
  • They sang his praise but didn’t wait for his counsel.
  • They lusted, then they tempted God.

Here’s what happened to Israel after leaving Egypt: They lived in grace for a time, until they decided that they knew better. They were fed with bread that God prepared especially for them and especially for that time. They tired of the first angel food cakes and began to complain.

They wanted everything to go back to normal. Egypt normal. Their thankfulness and joy lasted only for a short season. They remembered the garlic and leeks, but they totally forgot about those other little details of bricks, taskmasters and bondage. They had a serious case of selective memory. 

They didn’t embrace the chaos. Like a running back imitating John Heisman, they stiff-armed the blessings of the Almighty and kept right on running toward destruction.

One thing that living in a different culture and on the foreign mission field has done for me is force me to loosen up, relax and depend upon God. The money may not be in the bank when I think it’s supposed to be there. The response to the Gospel may not be as quick as I think it should be. The separation from friends and family may be tougher than I want it to be, and everything may look chaotic and out of order, but…

…I’ve got nothing greater than I can do other than embrace the chaos and realize that God’s smack dab in the middle of it all. He’s the city calmly at the eye of the storm.

This is my manna. What I have is what God has prepared for me at this time, and in this place, for one simple reason – because He wanted to do it like that.

Occasionally, being on the mission field, following Jesus, living in the overflow can feel like a wilderness situation, until we stop and throw our arms around the chaos and hold on tight. Embracing the chaos is determining to find Him in it all. It’s not bitterness and it’s not begging to go back to Egypt.

It’s looking across the table at your brothers and sisters and saying, “…and then he was all like….and I was like….”

Complete with howling and cackling.

Tell us about your chaotic provision. What mundane happenings around you might you be overlooking as God’s handiwork? Please take a moment to share in the comments section below.

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Michael Andrzejewski bio picMichael Andrzejewski. Missionary. Writer. Normal Guy. Serving in Western Europe since early 2008, with his wife Nina and their 5 kids, Michael loves to share his stories. A graduate of West Point but an introvert by nature, he swims upstream while struggling to pastor cross-culturally. Passionate about both the Gospel and football, he constantly searches for really good sushi. His stories have been published by several small-town newspapers and magazines. He opines about missions at michaelandrzejewski.com and looks forward seeing Jesus one day. Follow him on Twitter (@cbcportugal).

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  • danielajoy

    manna! Is that what it’s called! Our Chaos is your Chaos! I think we are raveling from chaos to out of control! But I believe we are right where God wants us. I believe.
    Great post. Awesome how you got to write for a life overseas.

  • I’m with you, Dani Joy. Knowing God’s will brings great peace doesn’t it? I really count it an awesome privilege to be able to share my thoughts here. Thanks for commenting!

  • Rachel ‘Pieh’ Jones

    Welcome Michael, wonderful to find your words here.

  • Richelle Wright

    Michael – thoroughly enjoyed this piece. I most often see God’s hand more clearly in the chaos of family life than just about anyplace else. And then He gives me glimpses of myself and my forgetfulness, my impatient inability to wait on Him, my desires for things that look good (or how I remember them makes them look even better) but that are no part of God’s plan – in the struggles and challenges we are facing with our kids.

    At the same time – after having spent 2 weeks with all 10 of us crammed into our van, I’m quite delighted with the unchaotic quiet – and seeing what God wants to show then as well.

    • Praise the Lord, Rachel. Thanks for the encouragement. I can only imagine 10 in a van for 2 weeks. The stories your have to tell one day with the grandkids.

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