Jackson Pollock is arguably one of the most influential artists of the modern era. His painting here simply entitled Number 16 recently sold for over $32 million. On first glance especially if we didn’t know that this painting is a Pollock, many of us would just see chaos – not art, not technique, not a plan, just randomized chaos. But if we take a closer look, and if we grasp the theory behind what Pollock was trying to do, we would find that his paintings are far from random. While they may elicit chaotic feelings in their viewers, there is a beauty and a wildness to be appreciated by those who stop to take a closer look.
Isn’t life a bit like that? My life often feels like a chaotic jumble of things to do, fun to enjoy, work to complete, tasks to accomplish, errands to run, and a million other things. While my life may feel chaotic, I am determined to imbue it with purpose. I exist for a reason; I was created for a purpose, not for randomness. The Westminster Shorter Catechism states that “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” But how am I to live out that purpose when my life often feels out of control?
My family tries to take the last few weeks of each year to reflect back on what has passed, and to think ahead to what we want the coming year to be. Picking “one word” has become a bit of a trend, with no shortage of bloggers purporting to have just the right way to pick your “one word” for the year. I tend to be cynical when it comes to trendiness, but I can honestly say that we’ve found this type of reflection deeply helpful in reining in the chaos and pursing God’s glory.
Last year, our word was peace because we knew it would be a difficult year: one job lost, another job gained, a multi-state move. This year, we’ve chosen the word service, and we’re memorizing Philippians 2:1-11 to help remind us of why we serve. Our focus is not simply on doing more and being busier. Our focus is on looking to the example of Christ, who came humbly, served humbly, and died humbly, all so that we might have life. We want to look at our family members, our neighbors, our co-workers, our peers, our church, and our world and ask ourselves, “How might I humbly serve someone today? How might I put their needs ahead of my own?”
By asking those questions and reflecting on our Scripture passage for the year, I am enabled to say “no” to lesser things and “yes” to greater things. I can put down the smartphone and stop mindlessly browsing Facebook, and instead take a meal to a friend who had a baby, or read to my preschooler, or write a letter to a missionary friend. Little by little, choice by choice, moment by moment, my life becomes less chaotic, less about running in a thousand directions and more about learning to serve others and thus glorify the God who made me for His own sake. And I’m finding that to be a delight.
What about you? Did you pick a word for the year? If so, what is it? Why did you choose it? Is your life marked more by chaos or purpose? What needs to change?
And if you just want to have a little chaos fun on paper, check out this site and create your own Pollock – just for the joy of it!