On Monday I had a topic in mind for today’s Thursday’s Thirst, but I cannot remember what it was. Tuesday brought another idea that has also vanished in the wind. Wednesday early morning it was the same. How do the lyrics from the Beatles’ White Album go? “When I get to the bottom, I go back to the top of the slide where I stop and turn, and I go for a ride till I get to the bottom, and I see you again! … Look out! Helter skelter! Look out, ‘cause here she comes!”
This week has been filled with worship services and preparations, great conversations and visits, cancelled appointments, blessed scriptural insights, long periods on hold and multiple frustrations, a quiet evening at home and a ‘dead brain’ time in the office. Looking at my calendar for the rest of the week it looks like I am about to “go back to the top of the slide where I stop and turn, and I go for a ride (again) till I get to the bottom”. Like the song says, “Helter skelter. Look out, ‘cause here she comes (again)!” And somehow I suspect that the next two weeks might be more of the same.
While I should probably be quoting a song written by John Lenon (who was killed 41 years ago yesterday), Paul McCartney wrote Helter Skelter with the intent of contrasting the Beatles’ former songs with “a gritty vibe of constant, un-trackable movement of both lyrics and timbre”. Unfortunately, to a certain degree, it now describes the norm in many lives. Helter skelter can be defined as either disorderly confusion or a slide that spirals around a tower at an amusement park. My mind this day is focused both upon the disorderly confusion and the “here we go again” of heading down the slide only to climb to the top, and then go down again … Helter skelter.
Yet, in the midst of all of this, as I pause this morning to reflect, I can see God at work … in an orderly progression amidst my confusion … step by step leading me on a path that, in reality, is not going in mindless circles but toward the accomplishment of his gracious and merciful will. The sons of Korah remind us that while “nations rage and kingdoms totter” God speaks to us saying, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth!” We live in the assurance that “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob remains our fortress.” (Psalm 46.6, 10-11)
The chaos would certainly overtake me if it were not for the few moments I take at the beginning of my day to be still in his presence … reading and meditating upon his Word … going through my prayer routine … receiving the Spirit’s refreshing breath as it guides me into my day. Yesterday morning I awoke with a mind filled with troubling thoughts and anxious (fictitious) stories that had me “rolling out of the wrong side of the bed” (figuratively, not literally). Graciously, before I rolled out of bed (literally), the Spirit interceded by showing the folly of my thoughts. And, within the hour and before I interacted with any other humans, he had me ready and looking forward to my day … and the additional “helter skelter” I would encounter.
Charles Manson claimed that Helter Skelter was about race wars and murder … things that continue to cause chaos in our world. To this we can add pandemics and mandates, Christmas preparations and a myriad of other things. Somewhere though, in the midst of the helter skelter of our lives, we all seek a greater level of peace and joy. I received affirmation of this last week as the number of people reading my article on “Oxford” nearly doubled from the usual number.
Helter Skelter is in no way a Christmas song, nor does it contain the message the Savior of the nations would have us hear this day. So, allow me to replace its lyrics with another, more appropriate song, with the hope that you will be singing this song – no matter how much helter skelter you encounter – as your day continues. “Joy to the world, the LORD IS COME! Let earth receive her King: Let every heart prepare Him room and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven, and heaven and nature sing. He rules the world with truth and grace and makes the nations prove the glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love, and wonders of His love, and wonders, wonders of His love.” (LSB 387) Or, returning to those sons of Korah, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in ‘all the helter skelter’. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the seas, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. … for the Lord of