When I think of the phrase, patterns in the chaos, I think of Jody Foster in the movie Contact. She had headphones on and was listening to the sounds in outer space that were picked up by the Radio Telescope Array in New Mexico. Someone asked her what she was doing and she replied, “I’m listening for patterns in the chaos.” No matter where the chaos is, it is a good thing to look for patterns in it.
As humans living on this planet, we deal with multiple forms of chaos. Take nature, for instance. Where there is a hurricane, earthquake, tornado, or tsunami; we must deal with the resultant chaos that ensues. Each leaves a pattern of destruction in its wake in one form another. We have no control over this kind of chaos. All we can do is pick up the pieces and try to fix whatever has been broken or destroyed.
Then there is the chaos that is brought into our lives by others. If we have relatives or friends who have substance abuse problems, we know there is a form of chaos that swirls around them and the situations they find themselves in. Or if we have a family member or coworker who is unorganized or irresponsible, they create a level of chaos that we may or may not have to deal with. When we step back, we can usually see a pattern in their chaos. Again, we have no control over what another person does, only how we decide to relate to it. Recognizing the pattern gives us the understanding we need in order to deal with it.
None of us like to look at the chaos that we cause. When we make bad decisions, i.e. don’t pay our bills on time, spend money irresponsibly, or use poor judgment in one way or another; we create a level of chaos. When we step back and look at it, we can see there is a pattern to the chaos and that we alone are responsible for it. If we can recognize the pattern, we can learn to change our behavior. Fortunately, we do have control over this form of chaos and can do something about it.
There is another form of chaos that comes into our lives from spiritual forces. Have you ever made a positive decision spiritually? Perhaps you have decided to draw closer to the Lord, read your Bible more, give more to the Lord, or lead a Bible Study. If you have, you know that soon after you made the decision, you are bombarded with things or distractions that want to negate that particular decision. We each deal with an enemy of our souls that wants to keep us right where we are and prevent us from moving forward. Initially, and from time to time, these forces come against us. We don’t have control over them, but we can pray and ask the Lord to protect us from them. In order to take positive action (prayer) we must step back and see the pattern. Then we can recognize what is happening to us and begin to engage in the spiritual battle.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6: 12-13