Wednesday, May 14, 2014


In the late 1700s, this little ditty began as an English nursery rhyme about an anthropomorphic egg. It seems that Humpty had an accident. What was he doing on the wall in the first place? Whose wall was it? Was Humpty perchance disobeying orders? Was he pushed off by someone? Did he jump? Or did he lose his balance? The rhyme doesn't tell me.  Kids don't ask such questions anyway.

Too bad he was such a softy. It would have gone better for him had he been hard boiled. Some say the rhyme had political overtones, perhaps it was about King Richard III who was defeated in battle. It was a pity that his entire army couldn't help him. The analogy has been exploited in political cartoons around the world. Ol' H.D. has even been used to demonstrate the Second Law of thermodynamics describing a process known as entropy—about the order and disorder of properties.

Never mind all that. But I do want to explore the matter of order and disorder in our Christian lives using Humpty Dumpty's newsworthy event as a launching pad.

"Order" has many definitions. It can be an authoritative communication or command, as in giving an order. It can mean something that is working well, as in good order. Or an orderly system of arrangements in a sequence, as in lining up in order, or according to priorities. It can mean a state of neatness or efficiency, as in putting one's affairs in order. Or denoting inner orderliness and peace as by a sense of spiritual harmony.

Obviously, Humpty Dumpty must have experienced most of those definitions in his own eggish way by his catastrophic tumble. It certainly rearranged and disordered his properties—there was the CaCO3 shattered shell, the vitelline membrane, germinal disc yolk and chalazae spattered all over the place. It wasn't very pretty. What an awful mess! The consequence was egg disorder and disharmony. It figures that no one could help him him reconstruct his former standing—or sitting, in his case. It permanently changed Humpty Dumpty's integrity.

Thank God that in salvation history the "great fall" of our first parents didn't permanently change our integrity!  God created us in perfection and destined us to live with Him for eternity. Although long-term disorder set in, God, in His infinite love and mercy, is in the business of spiritual reconstruction and unscrambling eggs. Through His plan from before the foundation of the world, peace and harmony were restored in our reconciliation with God through the redemptive sacrifice of Christ on the cross.  We became new creations in Christ and experienced His Holy Spirit's indwelling. Our disorder was replaced with the forgiveness of our sins through our repentance. 

King David described this marvelous spiritual restoration in the Psalm-songs as being redeemed from the miry pit and set up on a rock. Our "Rock" isn't the material wall of the Humpty Dumpty rhyme, but the solid Faith Foundation of Jesus Christ our Rock. God intends for us to "keep abiding" on that Rock-wall in close communion with Him.

No analogy is one-hundred-percent, of course. But the problem is, because of our free will and continuing to live in a fallen world even as new, restored creations we keep slipping off our Rock-wall. When we do, we become uncomfortable and feel out-of-order. That is as it should be.  It can happen to us even during the span of the day when the stresses, responsibilities, the unexpecteds, and interruptions threaten to overwhelm us and throw us off kilter. Our peace flies away if we give in to anxiety. If our priorities get skewed, pressures of life push us off the solid foundation wall of trusting in God. We can lose our balance by not keeping our eyes focused on the orders God has given us for the day.

Humpty's summons of all the material and military resources of his human (or barnyard) kingdom didn't do him any good. Unscrambling eggs was above their pay grade. Vain is the help of man--or of other poultry. But our situation isn't hopeless in Christ if we find ourselves temporarily out-of-order. Our King of kings wants to draw us back to Himself and He has provided a way out of our discombobulation and disarray. 

He wants to keep us lovingly close and abiding in Him "on His wall." If perchance we wander from the paths of righteousness during the day or deliberately take detours from what we know to be His will, we are not irretrievably scrambled again. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." The Lord draws us gently back to Himself.

It is easier if we keep short accounts with God. Throughout the day we can carve out slices of quiescent stillness to simply sit in God's presence and let Him listen to our hearts while we listen to His. We need to remind ourselves to “be still and know that He is God” and we are not. We must hush our hearts so that He can examine them and we can hear His whisper as He restores us to His good order again. 

In the secret garden of His presence we can recollect ourselves and gather our scattered thoughts and activities to integrate and unite our spirits again with His and restore peace and order in our private worlds.


Propelled by the winds of my times
my inner world whirls with unrest
I’m driven by impulse and pressed
by the visible
the temporal commitments
and duties that pull at my spirit.
Responsibilities wrestle me to the mat
disintegrating my spiritual discernment
clouding my perception of God’s will.

Lord! I can’t hear You
if my outward world shouts so loudly
that my inner, private world is askew
without order and balance!

Not in the whirlwind of my life
not in the earthquake of circumstances
nor in the thunder of my activities
not in the lightning of my urgencies
nor in the fire of my passions
for accomplishment and success
can I sense God’s peace and direction.

Only when I withdraw
to my secret garden
within the hidden chamber of my heart
my innermost place of rest
where Christ abides
and graciously beckons me
can I settle down attentively
with a hushed heart
to listen to His still, small voice
without the maelstrom of stress
and tension of my outward burdens.

When I sup with Him
privately, intimately
and in communion with His Family
as He breaks the Eucharistic Bread
His Body given for me
He nourishes me so tenderly
helps me sort out the disorder of my life
and blesses me with peace and focus.

Then I can go forth
and * “let my ordered life confess
the beauty of Thy peace
and I can confidently face
the public day ahead
or the year ahead, or my next step
as God opens it before me.
*From the Hymn: “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind”
Text: John G. Whittier

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