God of Order and Joy

Gensis 1:3-5 (NIV): “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good. And he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light ‘Day’, and the darkness he called ‘Night’. And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.”

Leviticus: 23:1-2 (NLT): “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. These are the Lord’s appointed festivals, which you are to proclaim as official days for holy assembly.’”

Deuteronomy 5:13-14a (NIV): “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God…”

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-13 (ESV): “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.

Welcome back to September! Month of golden sun and cool eves, September also brings the return of so much that is familiar. Things like school, sports, holidays, weather.Schedules!

Everything kinda goes back on a familiar track after the apparent chaos of summer. Our minds crave organization. Order makes us happy—alphabetized books at the library; airline flight times listed in order; Facebook newsfeeds showing chronologically, please! We organize, because we serve an orderly God. He is not a God of chaos but of nature and law, math and science, promises kept and always fulfilled.

From the first opening words of the Bible, the Lord makes it clear that He is a God of that which is orderly and patterned. Our God is so powerful that He spoke light and life into existence! But naturally He could have gone about that any way He wanted. He could have created everything at once, couldn’t He? He could have snapped His mighty fingers and BOOM—penguins! Sunshine! Weeds and waves. Apple trees and breathing Adam. But He didn’t do it like that. And He makes no mistakes.

God took seven very orderly days, just one or two things a time, with pauses in between. He made the first schedule! He didn’t have to do it that way, but from the beginning He puts things into the system of time, so that life could happen in slow progression, rather than all at once. Buds become roses; saplings become oaks; summer heats slide into the cool of autumn. He shows us that life has an order of events, that each day has meaning, and that there is a time for the work and also time to pause and focus on the good. He is not a God of busyness for the sake of busyness.

His orderliness isn’t just displayed there. Within the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, God gives law and schedules the lives of his Holy, chosen people. He takes the time to schedule their weeks: “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.” (Deut 5:13 ) He schedules their years: Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. These are the Lord’s appointed festivals, which you are to proclaim as official days for holy assembly.” (Lev 23:1-2).  And He doesn’t do this to create a restrictive schedule, He’s saying I know your flaws and this is where you will flourish best. He lays out law and life in amazing detail. Where the people should camp. What should get set up where. How to deal with every possible situation and who to be. He’s asking us all to remember Him in the midst of our work and He’s telling us that planning is good. Plan for celebration, yes. Plan for rest. Plan the times where you need to work extra hard in harvest, and then sing extra loud in celebration. God appointed dates for us to look forward to and plan our lives around. And the Bible also reminds us, oh so frequently, that all our plans and tomorrows belong to the Lord. We may plan, but He establishes.

Sometimes this world tricks us. We crave the Lord’s good order but often fall victim to chaos instead. Hiding within the godliness of scheduling is an evil that manipulates plans into busyness and busyness into pride or unrest or even to chaos. (Hi. Preaching to myself!) But the chaos of doing for the sake of doing does not satisfy. It offers no real reward and it doesn’t play fair. There’s no planned pause in chaos to allow for restoration.   

God’s orderliness and His plans are different. He says there is a time for harvest and feasting, cooking and cleaning, coming and going, sitting and rising. He speaks stillness into a world that preaches chaos and bids us work hard when we work but to set our hearts on substantial things as we do so. Within the order of God’s good world there is much to be joyous about. It’s not chaos in God’s hands it’s wholeheartedness—it’s laughing ‘till you cry, it’s riding your bike down the middle of the street, running through a sprinkler and throwing confetti. It’s miracles. The sun and rain at the same time, the bread and the wine. Bushes that shouldn’t burn and seas that part. The death and the resurrection.

In the good order of the Lord, there is everything our souls need.

September Devotional, by Marisa Pacchiarotti


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