When we set goals for this year, COVID-19 was definitely not on our radar. It has changed the way we interact with people, carry out our daily lives, routines and future planning. Jobs have been lost, the economy has taken a hit, schools are struggling with what to do, churches, businesses, events and everything else looks drastically different. Some of us have even lost loved ones or know of people who have, making this season very painful on many levels.
Because of these changes, most of us have probably asked some tough questions, and maybe even examined the way we live our own lives. A common phrase that has been used this year is, “I’m ready for things to get back to normal!” Trust me, I get it and I’ve said it too. We miss the old normal.
I have found myself wrestling some with God, pressing in for answers. I’ve also gotten frustrated with the current circumstances, making it too much about me. We may want things to get back to normal, but perhaps there are some things in our lives and around us that should NOT go back to normal. God may be calling us to step into a NEW normal (you’ve probably heard that phrase a million times too!). Through this time, God has gotten my attention and has been teaching me a lot. I hope what I’ve learned so far will encourage and help you as well. This blog is just a small picture of that.
Here are two things that have often been normal in my life:
This pandemic has essentially wiped out our calendars. I’m one that enjoys having a full calendar and knowing that exciting opportunities are on the horizon. I like to feel busy and productive. When I don’t, I often don’t know what to do with myself. It’s natural that we would look forward to things. The opportunities that I look forward to are good things, such as: vacations and trips with my wife and family, ministry opportunities, outdoor adventures, church events, hanging out with friends and more. Some of these have still happened on some level, but most have not. The summer camp I preach at was cancelled. Our church has put extra ministry events on pause. Our summer vacation has been postponed. I’m having to be careful with how I see friends and having to say no to certain social gatherings. These are just some examples of good things that I enjoy, but often can and have become idols in my life. Suddenly much of that has been changed, and I’m forced to ask myself where my identity comes from. It must come from God alone, not busyness and a full calendar!
Far too often, I have practiced tolerance. I’ve looked at things and thought, “That’s just the way it is. Things will just always be this way.” I’ve tolerated things that do not please the Lord, in what’s around me and even in my own heart. I’ve chosen to often not speak up. How often have I lamented the weight of sin in this world, or even in my own life? There’s a numbness I’ve been tempted to give into. Tolerance leads to no action and that’s not what Christians are called to do. We are meant to bring the light into the darkness, which means we resist tolerance!
Here are two new normal’s I want in my daily life:
- Purposeful, intentional living
Not every opportunity should be taken. It is okay to say no at times, and not do everything. It is okay to have a day (Sabbath) where we simply rest. What would it look like if I asked myself WHY to the things I put on my calendar? Of course, there are some things you just have to do, but there are also some things you don’t have to do. For those things, we should really ask ourselves why we’re doing them. Being intentional and purposeful with each day God gives us helps us truly savor the grace and opportunity of the day, and not just go through the motions and get caught in the trap of busyness for the sake of being busy. I don’t want to take the gift of life for granted and miss what God is doing.
- Convictional, passionate living
There are COUNTLESS opportunities for Christians to take action and refuse tolerance. What can we do? How do we make a difference? How does the Gospel get brought into each situation? How should we speak up? How do we fight for others and truth? God has used this time of slowing down and self-reflection to reveal new things to me that I MUST do. Just look around! The conviction of the Holy Spirit in us combined with a drive and passion to make a difference is powerful!
Although this is a difficult season, I don’t want to waste it. I want my perspective to be more aligned with the Lord. What are some of the normal’s in your life that may need to be re-adjusted to new normal’s? I don’t have the answers as to why these things are happening. But I do know that I must trust God and lean into Him. I must be available to serve others and pray for those that are hurting. This is my hope and prayer. These are just some lessons I’m learning. What about you?