1 Corinthians 14:33 New Living Translation (NLT)
33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the meetings of God’s holy people.
Spend any amount of time in our home and you’ll quickly see that the Bullard Pack lives in an orderly and organized environment (at least…most of the time!). From the time I was a little girl, I would frequently re-arrange my bedroom so that all of my belongings would stay organized in such a way that they could be easily accessed and used for their intended purpose. 30+ years later, I’m still doing the same thing. Except, now, I have 5 bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, a school room & a ministry room to keep in order!
Over the years I have been praised for this gift and openly criticized for being too structured and rigid. Others comments have sometimes served to inflate my pride or make me feel ashamed, wanting to be different. But, when I look to God- not others, for my identity and the way He’s gifted me, I am able to use my abilities to worship Him and serve those whom I am called to love. Through studying God’s word, I’ve also seen that this gift is a reflection of Him, because He is a God of order!
When I discovered that a structured environment and strict routine was extremely helpful for our daughter, who was diagnosed with Autism, I knew that God made no mistake in choosing me to be her mother! I spent hours upon hours arranging her clothes, toys, chore cards, school, snack and meal schedule and extra-cirricular activities to help her be able to focus and be more productive (it also greatly reduced the amount of melt downs and violent outbursts of anger towards others that she randomly had). What I didn’t realize at the time was that the order and organization in our home would also greatly benefit me, Doug and our other 3 children. Years later, as I continue to re-arrange and discover new ways to bring order to our home I have discovered that we tend to function at our best when we have the following tools in place:
-a list of family “rules” (and consequences for disobedience)
-a family, school & ministry calendar
-a cirriculum, “recess,” snack, meal, electronics & bedtime schedule (specific for each child)
Using these tools has helped our children understand our expectations and be able to prepare themselves for what the family is doing or where we are going. Now, I realize that we can’t plan and organize for everything in life…we must be flexible enough to follow the voice of the Holy Spirit when He prompts us to move outside our box, but…when we know the direction we’re heading and what is required of us to get there, we can have peace on the journey.
Yesterday, I was somewhat shocked to hear our teenager (yes, our TEENager!) say she was ready to get back to our school schedule. Why?!? Because, after a few weeks of summer vacation with no schedule and freedom to do what they wanted, when they wanted, she discovered that freedom without boundaries isn’t really freedom. In fact, as I have slacked off on enforcing the “rules” (& consequences for breaking them), they’ve had more bad attitudes, sibling rivalries and episodes of disobedience.
What that makes me realize is our children thrive when they:
1) know the “rules” & understand the consequences for disobedience (& are disciplined accordingly, when they break them)
2) know their purpose and the purpose of our family (which is reflected in our schedules)
Conversely, when they are “free” to do whatever they feel like, chaos erupts.
Its not much different than the children of Israel. After years of whining, complaining, wandering in the wilderness and just doing stupid stuff, God intervened and gave them the 10 commandments.
God didn’t give them this list of “rules” to follow because He wanted to be a harsh taskmaster like Pharaoh. He gave them to His children out of love, so they would know how to be able to live a life of FREEDOM.
Have you ever paid attention to the order of the 10 commandments?
1st, God told His children how to love Him (explained in 1, 2, 3, 4).
2nd, God told His children how to love others (explained in 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10). When asked which of the commandments was the greatest, Jesus confirmed the order:
Luke 10:27 New Living Translation (NLT)
…. “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
When we spend our days loving ourselves and refusing to follow God’s “rules,” we end up running amok through the wilderness, engaging in all kinds of stupidity, and living a life enslaved to chaos. But, when we love and submit ourselves to the Father and the order He has given us, we are FREE to live happily within the confines of His “rules” and we can have LIFE….to the full!