If you are about my age, you may remember the CBS TV Show “Get Smart”. The series ran in the late 60s and combined the spy genre themes of James Bond with the comedic brilliance of Mel Brooks.
When Secret Agent Maxwell Smart didn’t want to hear about something the conversation went something like this:
Maxwell Smart: “Don’t tell me that bucket of water is about to fall on my head…”
Secret Agent 99: “Max…(SPLASH!!)”
Maxwell Smart: “I TOLD YOU NOT TO TELL ME THAT!”
Max didn't want to hear about a mistake or terrible thing that happened. I don’t know about you, but I have wanted to use this refrain over and over again this month:
“Did I tell you that Sam had a stroke?”
“Did I tell you that Dana fell and hit her head?”
“…..Joe was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease”
“….has stage 4 cancer…”
All I want to do is shout, “I TOLD YOU NOT TO TELL ME THAT!”
It isn’t by accident that Maxwell Smart works for an agency called CONTROL. We like to feel we are in control of our lives and that bad things will never happen to good people. We like to believe that a stroke, a fall, or a disease will not interfere with life as we have planned it. But just like Get Smart, the daily episodes of our lives are exposed to our evil nemesis CHAOS. And when CHAOS hits, so does a varying set of emotions:
And just like in Get Smart, a few doses of:
Hope, and a new sense of resilience.
Today’s Acts of the Apostles reading (Acts 9: 26-31) could read like an episode of Get Smart. Saul, who will soon be known as Paul, enters Jerusalem and is met with fear from the disciples. Jesus appeared to this guy in Damascus? What a shock! Who is this guy? I can only imagine, in their misunderstanding, that there was a bit of man-handling as Barnabas brought him to the Apostles secret hiding place. Was he a spy for the Romans or the High Priests, or did Jesus true appear to Saul? As they begin to trust his story, there must have been a bit of regret, a few wise-cracks, and joyful gratitude in recognizing the work of the Holy Spirit in the moment.
When trouble strikes, it shakes our sense of control. Part of the comic genius of Get Smart was that even though Max works for CONTROL, he often brings CHAOS with him. What we often don’t realize is that control has to be disturbed by chaos in order for the episodes of our lives to take on deeper meanings. All major life events: births of babies, weddings and breakups, new jobs and retirement, sickness, and death bring chaos into our sense of control. Saul brought chaos, fear and dread when he brought new revelation to the Apostles. Through open listening, the chaos was dispelled by trust, and I’m sure a dose of humor and gratitude.
Just like Maxwell Smart, are you working for CONTROL? And in your efforts, are you finding brokenness and opportunity in CHAOS? If you are working to make meaning out of the chaos, or just need a little help finding control, give us a call. We are here to help.