At the Intersection of Chaos and Calm

“My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14 (NIV)


Do you ever have trouble sleeping?

This is unusual for me as I am chronically fatigued from the mental and physical demand of raising three young, energetic boys. Our days are filled with curiosity, conflict, and craziness. Needless to say, bedtime is an event I look forward to daily. 

I typically fall asleep within minutes of my head hitting the pillow. But recently, I cant seem to get my brain to turn off. I think about all the mistakes I made that day, all the conversations I could have handled better. I wonder if Im following Gods plan for my life. Insecurity about my mothering skills, anxiety about the future, and feelings of loneliness steal my peaceful dreaming. 

If only I could calm the chaos and get some rest, I think as the moments tick by. Have you ever felt that way?

The network of our minds is similar to that of a carefully designed map of a large, heavily populated city. Thoughts travel the highways and byways like lightning fast race cars, and if we let them, they will overtake our ability to live a healthy life. The overwhelming thoughts I was having were an indication I had gone too far without a break. Rather than heeding the caution of yellow stop lights, Id rush through the intersection full speed ahead. But taking breaks are crucial to our well-being and we have Jesus example as proof.

In Luke 5, we find Jesus beginning His ministry. He has been baptized by John, tempted by Satan, and called the disciples. Now, He is performing miracles. While in one of the towns, a man with leprosy approaches Jesus, asking for healing. Jesus heals the man and orders him, Dont tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them. 

Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. (Luke 5:14-15 NIV)

Can you imagine? Crowds of people came to hear Jesus preach and ask for healing. Hundreds, sometimes thousands of people followed after Him. I think its Jesus can relate to feeling overwhelmed. He understands what it feels like to be in high demand. And He knows what it takes to maintain calm amidst the chaos as the next verse explains. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:16 NIV)

From the beginning, Jesus carefully and diligently set aside the duties of ministry to commune with the Lord. I dont know about you, but I have a tendency to recognize my need for rest well after I am exhausted. For Jesus, solitary moments with His Heavenly Father were a necessity. They provided the energy needed to continue preaching and healing. In those moments, Jesus was refueled and recharged. 

We are unable to control the amount of chaos we face, but we can control how we respond. At the intersection of chaos and calm, we find Jesus. There, the craziness of life meets order. Anxiety meets peace. Fear meets courage. Insecurity meets confidence. Jesus is waiting for our daily visit and as our key verse mentions, His presence will go with us, and He will give us rest. 

If youre feeling overrun by your thoughts today, find hope in the promise of peace Christ offers – From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (Psalm 61:2 NKJV)

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for Your peace that passes all understanding. May we be mindful of our tendency to press through fatigue as You teach us to purposefully pursue time with You as Jesus did. Restore our hearts, minds, and souls, equipping us to be used by You.


What If I Don’t Feel Joyful?

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
Habakkuk 3:17-18

At times, it’s nearly impossible to be joyful.

I wanted to sulk. I wanted to stew over the events of the morning. I let the muscles of my face form a scowl of displeasure – the kind that can be spotted from across the room and shouts, “don’t even think about talking to me today!”

I hadn’t began the day in a bad mood, but after calmly asking my kids to get dressed three times, wiping up spilled milk twice, and realizing we should have walked out the door five minutes ago, I got a little irritated. But when we were halfway down the block before I realized one child left his lunch at home, I lost it.

Has that ever happened to you? It’s not a fun feeling. The sad thing is, I believed my attitude was justified. I thought my circumstances warranted a loss of self-control. My emotions dictated my actions, culminating in a regret-filled commute.

During my drive, the Lord used a familiar song on the radio to gently remind me that it doesn’t matter if I feel like being joyful. It matters that I choose to be joyful.

Regardless of what is going on around us, we have the opportunity to choose our response. Habakkuk’s story is one of choosing joy in the midst of pending devastation.

Habakkuk’s prophetic conversation with the Lord is recorded in three chapters of the Old Testament. He documents concerns about a great deal of corruption among the Jews. Habakkuk wants to know how God will respond. He learns of the Lord’s plan to send the Babylonians to overtake them, resulting in the loss of lives and livestock.

Habakkuk’s initial incredulous response eventually transforms into blind trust as he realizes his faith is not in earthly belongings, but in the Lord. He sings,

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
(Habakkuk 3:17-18)

Habakkuk recognizes that nothing about his worldly experience alters the course of his salvation and heavenly destination. Thus, he chooses joy.

When joy is based on emotion, it wavers according to our circumstances. When joy is a choice rooted in the truth of God’s Word, it never changes.

No matter how much I long for one, a blissfully joyous life simply isn’t in the cards because I am a flawed human married to another flawed human who produced three more flawed humans. But the amazing part is that through all of the chaos, discouragement, and struggles of life, I can choose my response. And I choose joy.

Remember Who You Are

I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
Isaiah 43:1

In the entertaining Disney movie, Moana, a young girl voyages to save her people from famine and the darkness threatening to destroy her island. Her quest is to find the demigod, Maui, who has stolen the heart of the goddess Te Fiti and convince him to return it to her, thus restoring life.

Based on ancient Polynesian mythology, the story includes adventure, drama, and infectious musicals. Moana and Maui eventually reach Te Fiti, an angry, volcanic dragon-like immortal.

Te Fiti symbolizes the state of many who have been hurt or had something personal stolen from them. She embodies the pain that can gradually consume even the most well-intentioned individual. Te Fiti misunderstands why Moana and Maui have come and wants nothing to do with the visitors. Wounded hearts are often unwilling to let others get close, fearful of further injury.

Moana and Maui’s first  approach of Te Fiti ends in chaotic miscommunication and Maui bails. Moana is left to decide if she will pursue Te Fiti on her own or give up and go home.

Alone on her raft at sea, Moana feels like a failure. She believes she is unequipped to perform the task at hand. She wants to throw in the towel.

But after a visit from her grandmother’s ghost, she remembers who she is, where she comes from, and the mission she is driven to accomplish.

Moana skillfully navigates her raft and boldly confronts Te Fiti face to face. She is confident in her ability to remind the goddess who she is as well. She sings,

I have crossed the horizon to find you
I know your name
They have stolen the heart from inside you
But this does not define you
This is not who you are
You know who you are

Her sweet words soften the goddess enough for Moana to return the heart to it’s rightful home. Te Fiti transforms from a smoldering lava monster into a lush, green, and flourishing island. Moana reminded Te Fiti who she was before her heart was stolen, allowing her to heal from a painful past. She may now rest peacefully, grateful to the courageous young lady who saved her.

For those who can identify with Te Fiti, there is a Savior for you, too. His name is Jesus. He searches for you. He knows your name. He knows who you are. Have you let Him get close enough to heal your hurting heart?

Who we are is not defined by what we’ve done nor by what has happened to us. We are defined by who God says we are. So when you feel rejected, remember He says you are loved

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. (Jeremiah 31:3)

When you feel lonely, remember He says you are known

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. (Jeremiah 1:5)

When you feel unworthy, remember He says you are His delight

He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

When you feel worthless, remember He says you are priceless

You are priceless to me. I love you and honor you. (Isaiah 43:4 (NIRV))

Let Isaiah 43:1 be a reminder of your identity as a child of our Heavenly Father. He has summoned you by name, you are His. No amount of harmful experiences, insecurities, or failures will diminish His affections for you.

A Tale of Two Trees

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.
The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Mark 14:38


Do you ever wonder why Eve took that first bite? What could have caused her to second-guess the God of the universe; her Creator; the One who loved her completely?

The tree of knowledge of good and evil was near the tree of life. Could Eve have been partaking in the harvest of the tree of life when tempted by Satan? Suppose she intended to be obedient, following God’s instructions when the hissing of the serpent caught her off guard. She diverts her attention from the tree of life and begins a conversation with Satan.

“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Gen 3:1a)

Eve’s mind opens to the possibility of doubt as she ponders his question even as she responds matter-of-factly, rattling off God’s command: ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ (v.3b)

Her logical reasoning makes sense to me – forbidden tree + eating = death. I, too, approach life with an A=B=C mentality. It’s straight-forward and for those of us rule-followers, it seems simple enough to accomplish. She definitely didn’t want to die and she had plenty of other trees to eat from. But what she didn’t account for was an unpredictable susceptibility to temptation.

You think, “Why do I need to go shopping for the party?
I have plenty of dresses to choose from.”

Satan is not a rule-following logical thinker. He causes us to question God in any way, shape, or form most destructive to our faith. His main objective is to cast doubt.

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (v. 4)

Could he be right?, Eve wonders. God did name it the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Surely, God wouldn’t want me to die.

A little voice in your head reminds you that so-and-so will be at the party. Maybe a new dress wouldn’t be such a bad idea. But the cost…

Eve inspects the fruit growing from the branch on which the serpent is sitting. It looks tasty, edible, and likely to provide wisdom. So she eats some.

You give in to the temptation to shop. After finding the perfect dress, which broke the bank by the way, you attend the party. So-and-so isn’t even there.

We all face temptation on a daily basis. For some, it is hour by hour or minute by minute. We are no different than Eve living in the Garden. Even when our intentions are to honor the Lord, we often get distracted by a voice persuading us to do otherwise.

If I run this red light, I should make it to Sunday school on time…
I really hope that handsome young man is leading the worship this morning…
Lord, please let me get to Bible study so I can tell them what I heard about Sheryl…
I can’t believe she is wearing that dress in church…

As we take our eyes off the Lord’s Tree of Life, our mind begins to justify our sin. We question the goodness of God and believe we know better. Or that we will not suffer consequences. We may regard our thoughts and actions as justified, desirable, or beneficial somehow. And that is exactly what Satan would have us think.

In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:9)

God could have placed the trees on the opposite ends of the garden. He could have made the fruit unappealing to the eye. But the appearance of the fruit and the close proximity of the trees symbolizes reality – we will never escape sin’s presence nor it’s allure. Even when we are following God closely. The good news is that even when we choose to eat from the forbidden tree, Christ offers forgiveness. He never removes the opportunity for us to repent and partake from the Tree of Life.

Mark 14:38 reminds us that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is week. We all have two trees from which we obtain nourishment. The harvest of one leads to death and the other to eternal life. Which tree are you eating from?


Thank you for taking the time to read my post! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. ~ e. jones

Choosing the One Thing Needed

But few things are needed – or indeed only one.
Luke 10:42

Have you ever felt called to do something for God – something you were super excited about doing, but the details of daily life seemed to hold you back? I felt this way when the Lord first called me to write. I would sit down, ready to transmit His message onto my computer screen. Then I would see the pile of laundry needing to be folded. Or the crumbs under the kitchen table. Or the leftover food permanently gluing itself to the dishes in the sink. The details distract me.

Martha, too, was distracted by the details. She invited Jesus to her home, the home she shared with her sister, Mary. Martha wanted His visit to be perfect, for the food to be prepared just right, the house tidy, the decor warm and inviting.

While Martha scurried around the house making preparations, Mary sat at the feet us Jesus. She listened intently, absorbing His every word. He captivated her attention, freeing her from the distractions of Martha’s frantic efforts.

As Martha’s frustration comes to a boil, she says something to Jesus –

She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

I can relate to Martha’s perspective. I imagine her thinking, If Mary would just help with the preparations, we could both sit with Jesus. Likewise, I think, If I can just get the house clean, then my mind will be clear to hear what God wants me to write. However, I think we all know what that is like – cleaning the house turns into just a few dishes, a small load of laundry. The details are never ending.

Thankfully, Jesus has something else in mind:

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Jesus recognizes Martha’s longing to please Him, but the taste of the food and the ambiance of the home matters much less to Him than her heart. Mary understands the importance of Jesus’ brief presence and He will not take that from her.

Choosing the one thing requires setting aside everything else.

Just as Jesus wanted Mary and Martha’s undivided attention, the Lord desires the same of us. He wants to meet our needs, bring us peace, and bless our lives. When we are distracted by the busyness of life, we miss the opportunity to hear from Him, even when we are in the business of serving the Lord. Before we start our day, we must spend time with Him.

If you can relate to Martha’s distraction with the details, consider the one thing we need to tend to most – our hearts. Everything else – laundry, the dishes, the bathrooms – are of less importance and can wait. Give the Lord a period of undivided attention today and see what happens!

Lord, thank You for Your presence in my life. You are never too distracted by the details to spend time with me. Teach me to reciprocate by setting aside everything else to sit at Your feet each day. Help me to choose the one thing needed above all else – You.