It was the hottest day of the year. Everyone was trying to figure out a way to beat the heat. Even at church we had a contingency plan. For the first time in our 73-year history we installed two air conditioners in the sanctuary windows. Factor in the ceiling fans, and add a few oscillating floor fans, and we were good to go. We made it through in relative comfort.

The Boy Scout motto “Be prepared” is good advice for all of us. So many of the problems we face come about because we don’t do what we need to do before trouble arrives. My pastor used to say “It is easier to just go with the flow and accept the consequences, even if they are bad. Then we can complain about it. A wise man anticipates what’s coming and meets it head on.”

The problem is that you can’t always predict what is going to happen. Newton’s third law of physics says “that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” There is always going to be some pushback to everything we do. That’s the nature of life. It is predictable even in its unpredictability. Have you heard of the “chaos theory?”

Dr. Ian Malcolm, Jeff Goldblum’s character in the movie, “Jurassic Park,” introduced us to the concept. Simply stated, it suggests that even though events may appear to be random, they are actually a part of a larger system that is interconnected and often leads to unpredictable outcomes ... which should be anticipated. In other words, “stuff happens!”

So imagine my surprise when I came home and discovered that our central air conditioning unit had stopped working. Any sense of smugness that I may have had when leaving church was replaced with an Eeyore-like sense of defeat. Yet, if there is one thing I have learned in life, it is that you can always do something.

My life verse is Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” So when challenges come, I don’t panic. I know God is with me. On our short-term mission trips I’ve learned that you need to be flexible when facing unpredictable situations. From working as a fire and police chaplain I learned that you have to have a plan for every situation.

The truth is that knowing you are not alone truly helps in meeting the challenges of life. God sends us family, good friends, and even strangers in our time of trouble. Many of you have heard my story about Jeff. He was a homeless man who showed up on one of the darkest days of my life. He listened as I poured out my heart and then disappeared. I call him my angel in disguise.

So when it seems like chaos is all around you, pause and invite the one who created the heavens and the earth to draw near. God will give you what you need to face the challenge. He will make a way. He will help you discern the right response to the situation you are facing. You don’t have to fret or panic. He may even remind you that you have two air conditioners in the basement so you can face the heat of the day. Imagine that! God is good!

The Rev. Cal Lord is pastor of Central Baptist Church in Westerly.

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