The New Is Still Not Normal
Updated: Nov 7, 2020
Man pulling the curtain up to a new colorful world. Power to make a change for the better
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. And He Who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Then He said to me, “it is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God, and he will be My son. Revelation 21:1-7
One of the favorite phrases of our time is “new normal.” I use the phrase, right alongside everyone else, but I admit that I do not like it. When there is some sort of change in our circumstances, we want an adjusted state of rightness or an adapted plateau of living so we know what to expect and how to function. A “new” normal presupposes that our prior state of existence was an “old” normal, even though that state no longer exists. In my mind, I envision an Oz-like wizard rearranging everything, and all of us racing around trying to accommodate the changes. To me, that sounds more demonic than natural. It’s like musical chairs for human life and living.
What is revealing is how determined we are to find normal. We need some state of affairs that are stable, so we know how to live, what to do, how to respond, what to value, and so on. For example, a month ago, did it occur to any of us that toilet paper would be a prized commodity? No… Our “new normal” appears to indicate that toilet paper is of great value, while gasoline is not. So, like children dancing to the music, we rush to find our new normal seat in the musical chairs game of life, hoping that we like where we land. Wbat bothers me is the underlying assumption that, in whatever our new circumstances, we are going to regain our equilibrium, get all our ducks in a row, and be content again. To me, it sounds a lot like the Hebrew slaves saying, “By golly, we can make bricks out of clay! It’s not that hard. Let’s go back to Egypt!” You were not set free in Christ Jesus so you could be comfortable with whatever enslaves us today.
When Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead (which is very different from being resuscitated from death), He inaugurated the true normal for all time and for all people. That state of affairs is normal, not anything we will find, or even create, on this side of His full and eternal reign. When we scurry about trying to re-create or re-form normal here, we will fail, for there is no utopia apart from our God. Life here is uncertain, unfair, unjust, and sometimes, breathtakingly beautiful and blessed – for our God is good.
We have so much influence on the here and now, even if we are unable to control the events and circumstances to which we are subject. Our love of others and our delight in them, our sacrifice and service to them, our joy in Christ that spills out around us, the hope we exude in our daily living, all of these can make a huge difference in the lives of those who cross our paths. We can advance the Kingdom of God and see genuine new birth in Him and real change in the lives of others. What we cannot do is make that last. Each generation must do the same for itself, for change only lasts as long as one lifetime. When that life is gone, something new arises, and the new can be either good or bad, but not normal. Good or bad, it’s just change, that’s all. The stone of our lives is thrown in the proverbial pond, its ripples going out in ways we cannot imagine or control. However, we can choose whether good or bad goes forth from our hearts and minds, depending upon how closely we live to Christ and how obedient we are to Him through His Spirit Who dwells in us. Then, another generation comes along, and the Christians in that generation must answer the call of Christ to go forth in His name in love and service for His glory.
Paraphrasing St. Matthew, “Lightning will flash across the sky, the tribes will mourn (meaning people attached to this earth), angels will appear sounding the trumpet, and the Son of Man will come with power and glory to gather His people.” (cf. Matt. 24:27-31) Then, Jesus Christ will rule, and His rule will be here in this creation. He’s not going to rule in some yet-to-be-disclosed location, but here – here, on earth, and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for He will make everything new!
This unspoken, usually unrecognized, longing for home is the source of our expectation of good things. It is the whisper that supports our confidence that we deserve good and should have joy. We were made to live as God’s children, wholly and joyfully in the Kingdom of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The restlessness in our souls and our search for the stability of “normal” are the deep compulsion of the human soul to rejoice in Christ our God – for His joy to be in us and for our joy to be complete. (cf. John 15:11)
Every time we adapt ourselves to changes by forming a “new normal,” we are essentially settling ourselves into the brokenness and whims of creation; we are accommodating sin and death, even if that is not our intent. Don’t settle for that. Let change be change and nothing more. Do not search here for the facsimile of normal and illusion of contentment. You were meant for so much more. When Christ returns, then, once and for all, we shall be normal. There will be no sorrow, no suffering, no death, no fear, nor pain. Those will belong to the former age, and we will be part of the new age to come. What Jesus began on the Cross last week shall be completed when He returns in glory. Finally, when we see Him, we will be as He is. (cf. 1 John 3:2)
The day is coming – perhaps soon, perhaps another millennium away – that I will finally, finally be normal. I’ll dance in the streets of my Father’s Kingdom, and the only dizziness I’ll know is the giddiness of my heart waltzing in joyful abandon before my Lord. Never again will the filth of sin contaminate my soul, nor the tentacles of evil and death reach to claim me. Don’t you want that, too?
The true normal has begun already. Reach for it… You’ll be surprised how close you can get.
In Christ –
Rev. Elizabeth Moreau © 2020