One thing I have known about myself… I love control. I deeply value control and autonomy, trusting in my own ability to navigate through life on my own. I am an outstanding fixer! I tend to operate under the belief that I can do a whole lot on my own, even though I know that apart from Him I can do nothing (John 15:5). Of course, what reinforces this natural leaning of my heart are cultural beliefs deposited in my heart (the Asian way does not value dependence) and the ubiquitous message of autonomy in popular media (I can do it… I’m somebody special… I can do anything if I put my mind to it). All of that has fostered a high control, autonomous protective spirit in me.
So what happened was God removed a key supporting “structure” in my life – my job. I have to be honest and admit there have been moments when losing that “structure” in my life has caused brief panic. There’s a sense in which these structures we have in our lives are good. These structures are helpful to provide some stability in life so it doesn’t slip into utter chaos and despair. But these very structures can give the heart a false sense of security and are never meant to offer ultimate security.
Here’s what I learned in practice… God created a sense of holy chaos when this “support” disappeared. I know we like to think of God as a God of order, yet, there are times when He creates a bit of chaos in our lives to keep us honest, to keep us from relying too much on these structures rather than on Him, to direct us away from self-rule back to Him. The “feel” of it in life is something like a chaotic swirl or mess, yet, God doesn’t do this to punish. This chaos is holy because it is separated out for a particular purpose, it’s done in love for a particular end.
Someone thought that it sounded like a game of Jenga. You know, God keeps taking pieces that prop your life up until the whole thing comes crashing down. I don’t think that’s a good image. This chaos is not random but purposeful. Your life is not a game where supporting structures are taken out piece by piece to see where your breaking point is. Actually, it’s God working in a particular gracious way as to create dependence and confidence not independence and fear. Yes, there is pain and confusion involved in the removal of “structures” that once gave security in life. John Calvin, when writing of the tribulations that believers will experience, said that the purpose or end of it is…
To distrust yourself so as to transfer your confidence to God, reclining on Him with such heartfelt confidence as to trust in His aid, and continue invincible to the end, standing by His grace so as to perceive that He is true to His promises, and so assured on the certainty of His promises as to be strong in hope.