Chaos Theory.

A lot has happened since my last post—which was forever ago. Our family moved out of our three-bedroom apartment into a five-bedroom house (with studio space for BOTH my wife and I!), the kids went back to school, and my wife started a new job. We also had a miscarriage. That was tough. Thankfully, God is faithful and has given us friends and family who have prayed with us and for us and we have experienced so much healing.

Interestingly enough, my wife, Becca, and I are part of an artists’ collective together and were working on pieces for our current show throughout that whole period. That’s not the interesting part. The interesting part is the theme of the show: Choice, Chance, Trust. It is based on a combination of the concepts behind the Urim and Thummim and Proverb 18:18 (which also gave us the dimensions for our pieces), which says:

The lot puts an end to quarrels and decides between powerful contenders.

The most basic idea behind the Urim and Thummim and Proverb 18:18 is God is supremely sovereign. So sovereign, in fact, that we can prayerfully rely on a coin toss to make a decision. What a strange and foreign concept to our hyper-empirical, post-modern way of living! Far too often, we fall into a formulaic, karmic mindset; thinking, “If I can just do everything right, my life will work out exactly how I want it to.” How often do we trust God enough to pray, “God, if it’s heads, we’ll do X, and if it’s tails, Y“? Rather than opening our hands to what God is giving us, we clench our fists around the illusion of our own control over our destinies. Rarely does our culture rely on anything as capricious as chance to determine anything of significance, yet one finds, time and again, God’s people casting lots to divide land, settle disputes, assign duties, and even choose a man to replace Judas amongst Jesus’ twelve disciples. How could these figures entrusted with carrying out God’s plan leave these decisions to what amounted to the fall of dice? The key to this, I believe, lies in Job’s response to what must have seemed to him an undesigned, utterly chaotic catastrophe: “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”img_1321

My piece, Chaos Theory, was also somewhat inspired by a mathematical models called cellular automata. By applying a simple rule to a set of random units—the results of a series of coin tosses, for instance—one can see patterns emerge from chaos. Cellular automata and fractal sets like the Mandelbrot set are used to describe and understand what, in nature, seems absolutely unstructured and chaotic: waterfalls; the growth of a forest; weather patterns; the patterns on sea shells.

What I see when I look at these wonderful patterns born out of disorder, and what Job and other biblical figures knew, is that God is supremely sovereign—even over chaos. He is sovereign over the toss of a coin, the casting of dice, the drawing of straws. He is sovereign over our successes and failures; over all that goes according to plan and all that goes so horribly wrong. So the question is not whether there is truly chance in the world or if I have control over my life, but can I, after making my plans, ultimately say to God, “Let the chips fall where they may, I will follow you”? Can I, like Job, lift my hands in praise of a Good God as I receive good and bad? Can I trust that over and under and throughout the chaos of this world, God’s hand is moving and acting?

I pray that I, and all of you reading this, can.

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2 comments

  1. storyoftheblend · September 23, 2016

    So good. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

    • jikarner · October 30, 2016

      Thank you. And thanks for reading! I’ve been digging your blog, too!

      Like

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