Normal:The old is dead and a new has begun
I'm frustrated, and maybe you are as well. The world is changing, and I am not a fan of the new way of things. After eight-plus weeks, my mind finally wrapped around the fact that when we are allowed to gather, shop, and dine together, normal will be gone. Well, the normal we knew, were familiar with, and loved too much will be different. Our normal is not normal anymore. The old is dead, and the new way moved in and is here to stay.
Gone are the days of hugging friends you meet on the street and sitting close to your church friends and family on Sunday mornings and evenings. Even going out to eat at your favorite Mexican restaurant looks unfamiliar. Normal is old, and a different normal is new.
What will a different normal be like? Will staying home be the new going out? Will church services offer a service for online only? Will schools go fully online?
The answers to these questions remain a mystery. The next few weeks and months will form and reshape how we gather and relate out in the world, and I am trusting better informed and educated officials to make those decisions. But I must admit I am uneasy and anxious. Maybe you are, too.
How can we embrace the new "normal?"
When I'm feeling frustrated and out of sorts, trying to learn new ways of doing things, I try to think about who is in control. It is not the government nor tiny viruses. It is not the normal way of doing and being that controls our lives. God is in control of every millisecond of our existence. A microscopic virus has not derailed his plan. He is the creator of all things and creates all things for His glory and for that I am grateful.
We do not control our future. God has a plan, and it will be completed. And keep in mind, His plan is good.
Jeremiah 29:11 is familiar to us, For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (NLT)
I love that this prophecy was given to the people of Israel while they were in captivity. Jeremiah spoke these words given by God Almighty to the people while they were suffering the consequences for their rebellion. God reminded them it was only for a time, and then He had great plans for them. Perhaps, we need to hear those words again.
God's plan always involves a death to one and life to another. It means death to the old way and life to another—death to the "old man," and life to the new man.
In her book, Chasing Vines, author Beth Moore expounds on the life of a vine related explicitly to John 15:1-17. In the chapter titled "Soil," she writes about how the death of something, someone, or some way of life is the catalyst for the new. I don't do the explanation justice, and I do recommend the book, all of it, but the way I understand her lesson: when something dies, let's say the way of life we practiced just a couple of months ago, it becomes the foundation for the new.
We lived one way prior to March 2020 and that way died to the COVID-19 virus and now we will live another way, a new normal. It's not necessarily bad, the new, it's just not the same. We have "before" and an "after." Before the birth of my sons and after. You see, something has to end for the new to have life. Again, I recommend the book. Beth Moore tells it much better!
I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.
John 12:24 NLT
We are familiar with the old becoming new.
Think of your relationship with Jesus. We were one person before we met Jesus and afterward became a new creation. Anyone who belongs to Christ became someone new. The old is gone; a new life has begun.
throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. Ephesians 4:22-24 NLT
Yet, sometimes we mourn the loss of the old and struggle to let go. Our old nature tries to scrape and claw its way back into our lives. Old thoughts, habits, and interests vie for our energy and attention. Every day is a battle against the old self. Each day we must take up our cross and follow Jesus. Each day we must allow God to guide our thoughts and actions.
Battling with my thoughts is probably why I'm frustrated with the death of my previous "normal." I was comfortable and it was easier to go to the grocery store and my beloved church. It was easy. Today, doing the mundane is not easy, and that makes me sad and frustrated. And, being totally transparent, fear has a lot to do with my state of mind. The old is trying to be the boss of my actions. Again, I must lay down my desires and will and embrace the new normal. I must "put on my new nature."
Thankfully, we do not have to fight the battle between the old and new alone. We have Jesus to help us cling to the new way of life. We can do everything through Him who gives us the strength. We can even embrace the new. From the verse above, "Instead let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes."
Take a deep breath and then breathe.
I'm anxious and I know most of you are as well. We don't want to worry, but we do. So, dear friends, if you are feeling a bit nervous about the future and the new normal, I pray you can take a deep soul cleansing breath with me and remember God is in control, has great plans for you and me, and we are not alone in the struggle to embrace the future.
Until next time, praying your new normal starts looking more familiar.
Need more encouragement? I always do. God's Word is the best source of comfort when you need to make sense of the changes. Here are scriptures to cling to when you are feeling frustrated about the new normal or the new way of doing things. Remember that God is in control, and His plans are for our good.
but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31
Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them." Isaiah 42:9
"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-19
I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel wll neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD watches over you— the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Psalm 121
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14
And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Revelation 21:5
What obstacles have you stuck or struggling with the new normal?
Isolation? Fear? Reach out to someone and let them know you need prayer and a little conversation. Send me an email. I would love to connect. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
What is one thing you can give God thanks for? Safety? Health? Technology that keeps us connected? All of these are gifts from Our Father. Aren't we glad He has given us everything we need to survive--and thrive--during this difficult change? Give God the gratitude.