Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Out of order

Out of order

The sculpture caught me by surprise, like some malevolent spider on the wall.

Since the convention center I am working in is a part of a D.C. area medical research facility, the intention of the artist must have been to create a visual organic compound. Chalk it up to my illustrator’s mind, but it appears too organic – a creature using the building’s structure to cling menacingly above the headers of passers-by like a lab experiment gone horribly wrong.

In the words of the old song: It was just my imagination, running away with me.

It is all the more surprising because of the quiet orderliness of this place. There is almost a kind of hushed elegance here. I think the peacefulness comes from the uniformity, where variation is banished and Rule reigns supreme.

It’s how we want life to be. But we know that chaos always finds a way to sneak in, like the organic spider. Or like the small piece of paper that audaciously ruins the view of this proper hallway.

Or is it just my need for order running away with me?

It’s remarkable, when you think about it, that God “took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” (Genesis 2:15) Adam’s job was to bring a sense of order to what was already beautiful. Consider that: God created a system that needed constant tending. The shrubs that Adam hypothetically placed perfectly along the path eventually would have grown too large, if unattended. Let’s not even talk about weeds.

We love order. Order is good. More than that, it is godly. Much of what we do for work is, in some way, attempting to bring order to a world leaning toward chaos. But God never intended for us to find our peace and purpose in a world of order. There will be variation in the next world because it was a part of his original design for this one.

Instead, order should point us toward Him. And so should the surprising exceptions, the unexpected delights, the unplanned intrusions of life.

You, Lord, are the source of all our peace, purpose and joy. We find satisfaction in a tidy house and an organized schedule because it makes us think of you. But help us not to rely on orderliness for our well-being, making it an idol. Help us to also find you in the changes you bring to us.

Thoughts or comments on this column? I’d love to hear from you. Email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

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