We are on a journey through unprecedented storms and the chaos they produce. For most of us, the storms are coming from multiple directions and the chaos exists on several levels. We must remember that God truly is in control. In fact, He is a very careful and adept orchestrator.

Do we believe that He works all things to the good of those who love Him and are called to His purpose? If the answer is, “We’ll see”, then we do not believe it. The storms and chaos are not intended to prove Him, but us!!

The perspectives we take with us into the storms of life are critical, make-or-break paradigms. If we think like the world, we will seek worldly solutions. This is the only option for most of mankind.

Christians, on the other hand, have the perspective of heaven (Ephesians 2:6). We would be foolish to set our minds on anything else. We therefore offer the following perspectives for your edification and encouragement.

Chaos and Caterpillars

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2Corinthians 3:18

Consider the ugly, leaf-bound, and leaf-eating caterpillar who metamorphoos into a beautiful, free-flying, and nectar-eating butterfly (the Greek for transform is metamorphoo). Dying to his old way and form, the caterpillar becomes a glorious new form of God’s creation.

Similarly, God will use the chaos of this decade to dramatically transform the individuals, families, and fellowships who keep their eyes focused on the Lord and their minds set on things above. The Holy Spirit waits for God’s people to submit to His transforming – metamorphoo’ing – work.

Our response to this work will require leaving something behind. Many times, it is security, long held beliefs, routines, even people and places we have grown to love. Rarely does this call not involve a dying to ourselves. And so, there must be grieving – something best done with others.

It will help us (and those we love) to remember that chaos is normal for every Christian committed to following Jesus Christ. Sacrifice marked the life of Jesus, and He sends us as the Father sent Him (John 20:21). As He did with His son, our Father in heaven has great purpose for the chaos He introduces or allows into our life.

Storms and Houses

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall. Matthew 7:24-27

The storms we face in the coming decade will destroy the houses of people around us, exposing illegitimate or poorly founded relationships with God. It will be good for them to discover the insecure state of their salvation. Furthermore, they will be less likely to turn from God if they can find a strong house of refuge nearby. Becoming that house will include our own testing and humble response.

Unfortunately, many of us are quite good at avoiding storms and chaos. It seems like the sensible thing to do, right? The answer is a resounding “yes”, unless God has intended them for our good. The storms of life measure our obedience and love for our King. Whether we like to admit it or not, such tests are for our good: to expose weak foundations and shoddily built structures.

Crossroads and Gates

Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” Luke 13:24

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2

As we know, God provides two ways from which all of mankind must choose. These are the broad way that leads to destruction and the difficult way that leads to eternal life (Matthew 7:13-14). Jesus tells us that between the two there is a narrow gate that His followers, coming off the broad road, must strive to enter.

In my mind’s eye, I picture a large group of church attenders loitering around outside the gate, waiting for someone to usher them into the kingdom. Many will even seek to enter and will not be able. Why? Because they did not know or were unwilling to strive.

This begs the question: What does Jesus mean by striving? Of course, striving is not about working for our salvation. We are saved by grace, through faith. So, what is the point of striving in this perspective?

For the sake of brevity, let me cut to the chase. Entering a narrow gate requires leaving baggage behind – laying aside every weight and sin that so easily ensnares us (Hebrews 12:1). It also requires discipline to hear and recognize God’s voice, that we might find encouragement and direction. Eventually, entering through the narrow gate will require our striving to make a difficult and eternally significant decision.

Romans 12:2 describes a crossroad: a point of decision between conformity with the world and our transformation into kingdom citizens. Like those loitering outside the narrow gate, and those adept at avoiding storms and chaos, many of us have been standing at the crossroad of Romans 12:2 trying to find an easy way that is still acceptable to God. The storms of the 2020s will expose the notion of compromise as a deception. God will force us to make a decision.

Sidelines and Battlefields

You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. 2Timothy 2:3-4

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 6:13

For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. James 1:23-24

Most of us prefer to sit on the sidelines rather than get in the game. There are a couple of reasons for this. First of all, what is going on around us is not a game at all; it is a war, and who wants to get involved in that? You know, I think our subconscious gravitation toward the sideline explains why spectator sports is so popular. Living vicariously through others is both entertaining and safe.

Secondly, putting on the whole armor of God every day is a distraction from the entertainments of this world. It takes time to take up salvation, faith, righteousness, truth, and the word of God. Wearing the armor makes us look weird to our neighbors. Being a good soldier requires a level of disentanglement with the affairs of this life that is uncomfortable and sacrificial.

Of course, sitting on the sidelines – whether that is in a pew, stadium seat, or comfortable chair – means we are hearers of the word and not doers. Sadly, we have forgotten the kind of men and women we are. So, let me be (perhaps) the first to tell you: You are a soldier, a warrior, a mighty man or woman of God!! The only place for you right now, in the storms and chaos, is on the battlefield.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Ephesians 6:10

God carefully orchestrates time and space for His purposes. You and I are alive right now to become willing participants in the “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us (Ephesians 3:20)”. So, let me remind and encourage you:

  1. Caterpillars who refuse transformation will never become butterflies.
  2. Houses will either stand or fall; those that stand will provide desperately needed refuge, encouragement and understanding.
  3. Crossroads demand a decision; entering the kingdom of God requires striving.
  4. Battles are not games; they do not have sidelines.

Finally, remember that God has grace for everything He desires and requires of us. The Father is working in us to will and to do to His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13), Jesus has promised to make us His followers (Mark 1:17), and the Holy Spirit is our helper, teacher, and transformer (John 14:16, 26, 2Corinthians 3:18).

Yes, there will be sacrifice, tribulation, and even persecution; these are promised to all who follower Jesus. But we can avoid wasting the pain by simply letting the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have their way with us.

Be encouraged! That light at the end of the tunnel is the glory of God and His kingdom on earth!

Humbly yours and forever His,