Kingdom: Chaos

written by J. A. Hart
In 2014, I went to South Africa on a mission trip. My dad, three older siblings, and I flew into Johannesburg and stayed near Soweto, where we worked with a local church called Grace Bible Church. While we were there, Grace Bible planned a few fun events for us. More than one stands out, but the South African local market is an experience I will never forget.

If you've never been to a South African open-aired market, imagine an American farmers market where every person walks shoulder to shoulder, runs into each other at every turn, and all of the shopkeepers use every avenue to convince you to buy the most with the least amount of cost to them.

The moment we arrived and stepped off the bus, the shopkeepers moved in. It was like a sneak attack. From the calm bus, their voices bombarded us, and we had no time to regroup. Shopkeepers pushed each other out-of-the-way, trying to convince us to follow them to their shop.

They acted friendly enough, but their intent held firm; we were the target as long as we stayed in the market. Some shopkeepers called us "Friend" while others literally grabbed our arms, pulling us toward their product. Ironically, almost every shop looked the same. They even sold the same product. We found out later that one person owned the market, and everyone sold from his’/her's inventory.

The experience was pure chaos, and as a 15-year old, I had no idea what to do. As we walked through the shops, I lost my family more than once. Shopkeepers pulled my arms; some placed their arms around me to close my view to anyone except for them. They wanted my attention, and ultimately my (dad's) money. Many times, I got lost. I listened for my dad's voice and ignored the constant call of the shopkeepers. When I finally found my family, the cycle began again. Chaos continued until we stepped back onto the bus, tired and ready to spend the rest of the evening far from the noise.

I don't know about you, but my life feels a lot like a South African market.

Chaos exists everywhere, acting as an unseen force that tears everything apart at its seems. Amidst the chaos, I yearn for some foundation to settle my feet, someplace to rest my bones, but that foundation doesn't seem to exist in everyday life.

Instead, I spend my days doing as I'm told. Chaos calls my name, doing his best to curry my attention. His words rattle out like a gong above the rest of the noise. His voice exists in every medium: social media, work, school, movies, books, the news, music, etc.

I think you know what I mean. We look at our social media feed or the news, and suddenly fear and anxiety grip us. We watch a movie portraying a life we can't possibly have, and we feel depressed from the lack thereof. We talk to our bosses about a break, but they ignore us and pile more work onto our desks.

These moments warrant action, right? We want to react and do the next logical thing. Many times the next logical step is dictated by the voice of chaos. We allow him to define our actions for us by believing his story holds the truth. This leads us toward a kingdom of chaos where the cycle of death is evident and real. Look around you; do you see it? Is this really a kingdom we want to invest our resources in?

There is another way if we would choose it- there is a path that leads toward another kingdom where rest is in the heart of every man and woman who dwells there. A good-hearted King sits on the throne, and he beckons us to himself, away from death and chaos into life.

Calibration:
- What areas of your life feel like chaos? Why?
- What have you been doing about this?
- Do you tend to push ahead or just give up?
- Where does this lead you?
- How is your heart? Does it feel chaotic? Why or why not?
- How do you think you can take a step towards the kingdom of rest?

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