Finding Order

This week, I went on this “Order” crusade.

Being stuck in my house for what seems like the last year has caused me to look around at the piles of “stuff” that makes up my life and oft-neglected disorder that daily life brings.

I cleaned the garage.  I organized five boxes of computer cables and redid my computer desk and workstation. I weeded the flower beds.  I organized my workbench, and all my tools. I even organized screws and individual pieces of hardware.  About three fourths of the way through organizing every screw and piece of hardware in my workbench, I came up for air for a second of rational thought to ask my inner self – “hey, why are you doing this?”

Order.

I was doing it for order. Like most people right now, I am seeking order in the things I can control, since there is so very much I cannot. I cannot control the economy. I cannot control the spread of COVID-19 single-handedly.  I cannot control the fact that my favorite restaurant will not let me belly up to the bar with friends for a cold drink and a burger.

However, I believed I can control the microcosm of things that exist within the walls of my home, even if it as simple as putting washers of different sizes in different plastic dividers and organizing every drill bit by length and purpose. It brings peace in the moment, it brings some comfort in chaos, and it is something I did – something I accomplished.  I will admit, after cleaning the garage and organizing my workbench I found reasons to go back in and admire my work.  It was orderly. It was neat.  It was comforting. I was in control.  You know the feeling, right? It feels great, doesn’t it?

But alas, it never stays that way? Does it? You know better.

Disorder comes.

It already happened today – one of my children – putting away the recycle – had the AUDACITY to put a stack of cardboard boxes in the middle of the clean garage. The house almost went to Defcon 3 as I searched for the perpetrator of such a sin, on the tirade that only a frustrated father can do through the home. “Who DID THIS???,” I yelled carrying around the box as if it were the charred remains of a favorite shirt someone had set on fire.

Sure, I can put it back to order. But eventually I will leave my garage. I will leave my well tidied room and weeds will grow again in the fresh top-soiled flower beds.  Disorder will return, chaos will creep back in and organization will take a back seat to busy life again.

Disorder, disorder is coming.

But…. But…I need Order! Not Disorder!

So, here is what I’ve learned this week, friends: Perhaps, my microcosm interpretation of order isn’t the most important rationalization I can make. Maybe, if I zoomed out – there is a greater, more hidden order of things.  Perhaps, where I see disorder, my creator – my God, sees a perfect order.  For sometimes, at micro-level things can look utterly disastrous. For me, my disaster was cardboard boxes in a freshly cleaned garage. For others, maybe it is more serious.

We see losing our job – disorder.

We see a family member get sick and pass on – disorder.

We see a relationship fall apart – disorder.

If we are to step back to the 10,000 foot view, what we’ll often see – what I think God sees – is the order in things that he has created  – in his creation, in his children – in our lives.

Job loss – a new beginning.
A loss of a friend or family member – a desire and motivation to carry on a legacy.
A relationship fall apart – a chance for honest, deep healing.

So then, if we focus away from the proverbial boxes in our clean garage, we may see what God sees – his perfect order at work in our disorder. When we see order through the eyes of God things change.  We change. Hearts change. We’ve all seen it, even if we don’t always know how to call it out.

A child’s messy room shows a workstation of creativity.
A messy relationship offers the sweetness of forgiveness opportunity to build strong foundations.
A garden of weeds shows an opportunity for hard work, and the reap of a small harvest.

Perhaps, disorder is not always bad, as it alone can usher in change from our comforts, COVID-19 being no short of examples – just check your Social Media feed. Where we think we see order – sometimes instead is a veil to cover up true disorder. Even more so – perhaps order is not always necessary — maybe it’s not even necessary to see or even apply order.

Seems overwhelming when you think of it that way, no? Well, what if we just — let go? I think we can right now. I think it’s okay – to just, let go. Leave the boxes in the garage….

What is the prayer were told as kids again – the serenity prayer? The courage to change what I can?  But maybe we should rewrite it for today’s events, no? How about this instead: the strength to leave alone even what I can change, to wait instead for your timing?  That is where my heart is today, friends. Not to go and create order – but to find out where I should be creating it to begin with. To use my life as a magnifying glass on the focus of God and where he wants to see order.

That’s my comfort, tonight, friends – that in a world where it seems like we only see the opposite of a clean garage – I will live in the midst of peace even in total disorder. For I serve a God who makes order out of disorder, and who’s plan and timing is perfect.

But if you’ll excuse me – I have some boxes to put back in my garage.

Grant Dawson

Noblesville, Indiana
April, 2020