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3 Keys to Defeating Chaos In Your Life

Most of us like order, but daily wrestle with chaos. And depending on how complicated our lives, we may feel like we’re losing.   Where does it come from? It may be a function of our busyness, our poor choices or our untidy personalities. But sometimes its source is spiritual. God hovered …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
Most of us like order, but daily wrestle with chaos. And depending on how complicated our lives, we may feel like we’re losing.
Where does it come from? It may be a function of our busyness, our poor choices or our untidy personalities. But sometimes its source is spiritual. God hovered over the chaos and brought order. The enemy of our souls loves to reverse God’s creative process. He has a plan to fight divine order tooth and nail.
We may feel overwhelmed simply because we have unwittingly agreed with his plan.
I just got back from a relaxing vacation. While away, I disengaged from my To Do lists and responsibilities. I didn’t take phone calls. My days were uncomplicated.
Then I flew home. As I got out of my car and walked through the door into my home, I immediately was assaulted by chaos. 
You see, we are in the middle of a remodeling project. Our kitchen had been demolished. The living room furniture had been stacked to the ceiling in another room. Everything else was in a different place.
I greeted Asha and immediately noticed that she was dirty and needed a bath. But, of course, the sink was gone. I wanted to make a cup of coffee – how was I to know that it was now plugged into one of the few remaining outlets on our bathroom counter? 
Unfortunately, the chaos I step into back home is usually directly proportional to the quality of my time away. If I’ve experienced victories on the road, I’ve learned to expect the enemy to seek payback in other dimensions where I’ve been absent.
Defeating Chaos
Because this is not my first rodeo, I’ve learned to flow. In the morning, I went on my prayer walk. I talked to the contractor. I looked at my bank account to ensure it wasn’t upside down. I got my spirit calibrated before I looked at my email. I chose to agree with God’s plan, not the enemy’s.
1. I look for God’s perspective.
God sees the end from the beginning. He is never surprised and never overwhelmed. He is full of joy and wants me to drink deeply from that cup. His presence is available 24/7. He hovered over the chaos of creation and continues to do so. He invites me to join him in the creative process. Creation is still underway!
I look through the lens of faith to see what God sees. God sees the chaos, but also sees its resolution. He invites us to be faith-filled and to see his Kingdom coming on earth as it does in heaven. Seen from his perspective, I can greet chaos with a chuckle instead of high blood pressure. 
What a shame to miss all this by instead diving into my To Do list. Joining God gives me the positivity to confront negative circumstances.
2. I make my problems line up single file.
Not only was there chaos at my home, the next day I discovered problems at the office. Total them all up and I had perhaps 30 or more issues demanding my attention. Look at all 30 of those issues at once and you can’t help but conclude that chaos is winning.
Instead, I choose to look at which issues are important and address them one at a time. The first thing I did at the office was to walk around and chat with people. I took Asha with me (still unbathed, but always happy and a welcome sidekick) and we reaffirmed relationships before diving into tasks. Relationships trump tasks around here.
Yes, email is still unanswered. Yes, I have a board meeting next week. Yes, I need to approve next year’s budget. But we have great people working on those things. I invite others who are more competent and engaged than I am to address the issues.
3. I master my emotions.
So walking into the home or the office I felt overwhelmed. But I paused and didn’t allow that feeling to manifest in a stream of stress-filled words.
I began by looking at the facts. A good place to look is in the mirror. What have I done to contribute to the chaos? In the case of our home remodeling project, it didn’t just happen to us. Karen and I decided to do this. We helped draw up the plans and save our pennies to buy materials.
If I feel stress, I don’t transmit it to others by raising my voice. I go back to the facts and pray for God’s perspective. I look for and find peace. If I encounter pain, I don’t transmit it, instead, I allow it to transform me.
Bottom line
Jesus rescued you and me from a treadmill life and gave us dominion over chaos. He offers to take us away to vineyard-lined paths where he can whisper his affections in ways that our spirits feel loved. 
God has made us all for more. We are on a journey together to find it. I can see the trail so much more clearly now having looked for his perspective.
It’s my prayer for you. I pray that God gives you the clean air of a new season to breathe. I pray that he gives you the space to connect your yearnings and dreams to the brave action that will activate them.
I pray that you live on purpose – with the intentionality that allows you to thrive amidst the chaos of a world in the midst of childbirth. 

Comments (19)

  • Seth >> As always…honest, practical and full of wisdom. Thanks for continuing to write and sharing your life openly. Im better for it

  • I am so glad I found your blog! Thank you for writing this. I feel my life is very chaotic due to responsibilities at home and responsibilities at church. Your approach to chaos is something I need to put in to action. Thank you!

  • Seth:
    I know the Camino was a great stress reliever, and God put that in front of you. Chaos today continues to take center stage in many lives including mine at times. The key as you clearly state is how we handle it. Letting God in to help seems like the best approach. technology has sure added to the chaos and how we all interact with it every day. Simple is usually better.
    God will judge all of us on our total body of work. Thanks for sharing your experiences and thoughts they are appreciated and help keep us grounded.

  • My friend Tim Hansel’s last book he was working on before he died was “Dancin’ on the Chaos.” I just emailed his widow who was working on it with him, to see if it will still go to print. If so, sounds like a book you’d appreciate. For me, sounds like a book I need right now!

    • I think that’s how we met, Melinda. He was connected to World Servants and, if memory serves, connected us to you.

      Great title – Tim is dancin’ now on streets of gold.

  • Thanks for teaching me over these last few years. I have become a better man because you have chosen to share what God has given you.

  • Seth,

    I love hearing your insight on life. I am intentionally interceeding for you, your family, and your staff throughout this entire day.

    • Wow – thanks Ryan! God is good. Karen and I spent the morning dominating the chaos of the garage! It is clean and we are dirty!

    • Thank you, Ryan. What a great prayer to pray:

      “I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

      20-21 God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.”

  • I sometimes read your posts by hopscotching around and a couple of days late. So I ready “Why I Walk the Camino” a day late; today I read this post. I searched my e-mail intentionally for your post because I was in the grip of chaos. Thank you for sharing your walk, this post is a practical application – life skill and confirmation of what I know but couldn’t apprehend this morning.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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