Calm

Here’s a short story today for your consideration and application.  

One day a biologist observed an ant carrying a piece of straw which seemed to be an enormous burden for it. The ant came to a crack in the earth that was too wide for it to cross. The ant stood for a time as though pondering the situation. Then the ant put the straw across the crack and walked across it as a span. “What a lesson for us!” the impressed biologist said. “The burden can become the bridge for progress.”

Years ago, while visiting a high school friend at his company’s warehouse, I noticed one of his employees wearing a shirt with “The Power of Calm” printed on it. I started thinking about this concept, “The Power of Calm.” So here are some thoughts on when calm thinking and living could direct us to the best action. Which would you rather embrace, the calmness of a plan of attack or the chaos of a panic attack? 

There is power in remaining calm, especially when the situation requires it. The ability to find calm in the chaos upgrades your life. In chaotic times, we don’t need to control our impulsive thoughts. Instead, we need to stop letting impulsive thoughts control us. Here’s an example of “The Power of Calm.”

There were two men shipwrecked on an island. One started screaming and yelling. “We’re going to die! We’re going to die! There’s no food. There’s no water! We’re going to die!” The second man was propped up against a palm tree, so calm it drove the first man crazy. “Don’t you understand? We’re shipwrecked on an island. No food. No water. We’re going to die!” The second man replied, “You don’t understand. I make one hundred thousand dollars a week.” 

The first man looked at him quite dumbfounded and asked, “What difference does that make? We’re on an island with no food and no water. We’re going to die!” The second man answered, “You just don’t get it. I make one hundred thousand dollars a week and tithe on those one hundred thousand dollars a week. My pastor will find me!” That’s real calm in the chaos.  

There is a cost in losing your calm and cool. Moses couldn’t cross into the Promised Land because of losing his calm when the people of Israel were being, dare I say, the people of Israel. Awkward!

Look at Peter and Jesus on the night Jesus was betrayed. Peter had a panic attack and cut off the soldier’s ear. Jesus had a plan of attack and calmly healed the soldier’s ear, good as new, amid the chaos of a betrayal. 

The story of the prodigal son shows us the contrast between the power of impulse and the power of calm. The prodigal son wanted his inheritance before he died. He was an instant person, wanting instant things instantly. The father gave the son his inheritance. Soon the son was living in squalor and chaos. His money was gone, his identity shattered, his friends abandoned him and he lived on a diet of leftover pig fodder. Where was his father? He was sitting on the porch of his house, waiting for him. The father discovered calm in the chaos.

His father missed him but possessed hope the son would come back. The prodigal’s father had more faith in his son than the son had in his father. That’s not to say the father wasn’t concerned. But the father would not let his thoughts control him as his son did. Perhaps the father was like that saying by Michael Caine: “Be like a duck, calm on the surface but paddling like the dickens underneath.”

Jesus calms storms on the outside of people, and He calms storms inside people, too. It takes real God-power to calm both.

Here are some “calm in the chaos” thoughts for you. Brené Brown once said, “I can always tell about the health of a culture and of an organization by how much gossiping is happening.” Karen Salmansohn states, “When you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond to what’s happening. That’s where true power is.” David Allen says, “Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in mind.” One more quote on calm by Mason Cooley for you: “Romance is tempestuous. Love is calm.”

Calm down the non-stop chatter in your head. God has a plan of attack, while we generally have a panic attack. Train your mind to act intellectually, not emotionally react. A calm mind begets clear thinking. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and count to three. Someone out there reading needed this article today. 

Remember, God’s not in the strong wind, earthquake, or fire. Instead, God most often is in the sound of a gentle breeze — 1 Kings 19:11-2. In other words, God whispers because God is close — and calm. And trusting God is a real bridge over troubled waters for personal progress.