“The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”

Genesis 1:2

The second verse of the Bible is profoundly mysterious. Dark, formless, nothingness was all there was. Scholars have identified this language as the language of “chaos.” Orderless matter was the raw material by which the Spirit began to hover and create all that there is. Cosmos (order) from chaos (disorder) was God’s first work.

I have a version of what seems like formless, orderless chaos, too.

It’s called raising two little boys in the fix and flow of a busy life.

“Is that Leland?”


“What does he want?”

“Gosh I don’t know. Why does he have to get up this early?”

“Should I try to give him his paci?”


“Is that Henry?”


I gather myself out of bed. Stumble toward Henry’s room.

“Morning Henry boy.”

“Hey daddy. I want to go in the living room. I’m thirsty. Can I watch something? Can I get something to eat while I wait for my breakfast?”

“Joel?” Mandy calls from the master bedroom. “Can you come back here and get Leland? I have to pump.”

“And can you take my film by the post office?”

“Is it packed already?”

“Daddy. Why are you dressed? When are you coming back? Are you coming back after my nap? Play for a few minutes first. I want to give you a kiss and a bonk and a hug before you go.”

“I got to go babe, Leland is in here playing and I think he’ll be fine till you’re done.”

“Henry, don’t pull him down. Be kind to him. He’s your brother. Henry.”

Then, the afternoon, I walk into the house, sometimes the reverberations of screams and crying meet me, hit me, at the door.

“I don’t know what Leland’s problem is but he is driving me crazy. Can you deal with him while I pump?”

I grab Leland in my arms. He wails because clearly I’m not Mandy. Three year old Henry runs up, too.

“Daddy, but hold me first.”

“I need to hold Leland right now buddy.”

“Please daddy,” he mewls and whines.

And so on.

Some of you can imagine the scene and others can imagine your own version of this. At times, it  all feels formless, disordered and chaotic. What are we really doing here? It seems that we are just barely squeezing by each day.

But, there is another way of seeing it all.

This everyday formless, chaotic life is the raw material over which God’s spirit is hovering and moving. We have no other life in this world than this one, and it is this one that God is shaping and guiding and breathing his Spirit upon.

It helps to know we have as ours One who entered into the everydayness with human skin on, and these moments of chaos are the very stuff that God is using to make all that there is of our lives. Which means it is grace, beauty, joy and wonder in disguise.

And hard and exhausting and challenging and all the other things too.

There are two options, it seems: a) We can be frustrated all the time or, b) We can receive it with gratitude, even as we continue to long for that better country.

I want to have the courage to do the latter.

One thought on “Our Chaos”

  1. Joel, thank you for your excellent musings on chaos, both the macro and micro versions. I believe most young couples would do well to read and consider your insights.More importantly, I believe most individuals and couples of all ages would benefit from the wisdom you have set forth.

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