Order Disorder Reorder Part 1: Order

Day 5 of 5 • This day’s reading


Order Disorder Reorder

Whenever the bottom would drop out of my life, it would send me into a panic—afraid that either a) God is angry with me and has abandoned or is punishing me, or b) that he doesn’t care about my life, or c) that he doesn’t exist. These places my mind would go only made me more anxious and miserable.

But hearing a right word at the right time can make a world of difference, burning away the fog and helping us see things in a new way,, and that’s what happened to me when I heard these words:

I’m being transformed when I’m moving along the spectrum from order into disorder into reorder.

(It’s funny how a handful of words can change your life, but maybe not that surprising when I consider that God created order out of chaos by speaking it into being, and that later the “Word became flesh” to save us. Words make worlds and heal hearts.)

The language of “order disorder reorder” comes from author Richard Rohr and changes the way I understand the storms of life--helping me remember God’s heart, trusting that He who began a good work in me will be faithful to finish it (Phil 1:6) and that even as the storm rages around me I am not forgotten or abandoned. On the contrary, it’s in the storm where he does his best work in me, making me stronger than the storm.

Order, of course, is when things are going more or less according to plan. That is well and good, except that we rarely learn anything new in seasons of order, and over time we can become stagnant and even self-righteous. But don’t worry! Chaos is always waiting in the wings to throw us into disorder--maybe a job loss, a health scare, a broken relationship, or any disruption that reminds us we are not as in control as we thought we were, our answers aren’t as sufficient as we believed, and there is still more for us to  learn. 

Like the three Hebrews who met God in the furnace, we often meet with God most profoundly in the fires of disorder where there is enough pain to break our hearts open so something new can get in. And so this is how disorder sets the stage for reorder: by breaking us down and breaking us open enough to receive new wisdom.

I’m willing to bet that you’ve experienced this truth already—that you’ve gone through something painful and come out the other side more whole: kinder, less judgmental, a better listener, wiser, and more loving.

The New Testament language for transformation is the language of death and resurrection, and the One walking with us through the furnace of all the deaths we face, big and small, is the same One who said, “unless a kernel of grain falls into the ground and dies…” it won’t become what it’s meant to be next. Jesus went before us and overcame death so we don’t have to be afraid, trusting there is new life on the other side of whatever we face next.

This is how we are made new. Order, disorder, reorder. Over and over.

I hope this language helps you the way it helped me see my seasons of disorder as an invitation to trust.  I hope as you watch the storm clouds gathering around you that your fear is overwhelmed by the anticipation of new life just around the corner and new wisdom that one day will be so precious to you that even if you could go back and change what you went through, you wouldn’t.

“In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, for I have overcome the world” says the Word become flesh, and also, “behold, I make all things new!”