Greg and I found out we were moving to Texas three weeks before he had to be there for his new job. I didn’t want to stay in Tennessee without him, and I wanted to get the kids signed up for zoo classes and soccer teams about to start, so we all needed to move together. Here’s the story if you want to read about it. When one of my sweet mentors from my church found out I was leaving so quickly, she decided an apt present for my situation was a book written by a friend of hers: Live ABOVE the Chaos: Display God’s Strength and Beauty No Matter What by Laurie O’Connor.
Because of our quick move, I didn’t get a chance to start reading it until after we moved into our house in October, but I was still knee deep in chaos by that point, so it was still relevant. As I read it, I was surprised to find that it was more about living well through tragedy than through actual chaos, although chaos often surrounds tragedy.
The book starts with the author’s own story of when tragedy struck her own family and how she dealt with it. She learned a lot from the process and wanted to help others to stay off the path she followed; hence, the book. Part Two of the book is filled with good, biblical answers to questions many could have after going through tragedy. Honestly, although this was all good, I have already dealt with plenty of tragedy in my life and have learned, through Christ’s help and His body of believers, how to answer many of the common questions and how to stay close to God through times of pain. In fact, I have felt closer to God during these more difficult times than when life is going well. Both Part Four (about living with a clean heart) and Part Five (about loving others) also held very familiar information to me.
However, Part Three: Perspective: How Should We View Our Lives was very helpful to me. She gives five different ways of looking at our lives, but the one that particularly struck me was the perspective of a firework. O’Connor writes, “God is using Christians to make a light show that displays His splendor against the backdrop of a dark world” (pg. 83). She goes on to say that each firework is beautiful in relation to the others as a part in a whole fireworks show. Wherever each person has been placed in this world, whenever each was born, and whatever personality God gave each one, this is part of the beautiful display of His glory He has planned. We shouldn’t be wishing we were one of the other fireworks–a louder or brighter one, for example–because each unique firework has its place and is needed for the beauty of the whole.
Really, it’s the same idea as in I Corinthians 12:14-18: “For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,’ it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, ‘Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,’ it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.”
O’Connor admits that she once wanted to be like Beth Moore or a self-sacrificing missionary, but once she saw through this new perspective, she realized when she comes to serve God with a pure heart, she is just as important as any saintly Christian in the spotlight.
I also, as a Bible study writer, have had thoughts of wanting to be like Beth Moore and yet knowing I never can be since I don’t have her vibrant personality. However, that doesn’t mean that I should stop writing or that I should stop studying the Bible. I may not reach a large audience, but God will use me if I faithfully follow His steps. I may not be a huge, red, shimmering firework, but God made my small explosion to add to the whole beauty He has created in His people. You are part of it, too! So “let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).