Waiting for Normal
It’s been a minute since I’ve posted a blog. Actually, it’s been a month. A long, hot, August month to be exact.
But I’ve found I need to pause in the middle of the summer in order to have enough breath in my lungs to exhale throughout the fall.
The odd thing has been when I stepped back into “normal” – normal schedule, normal fall, normal start-of-school, normal pace of after-school activities – nothing is “normal” anymore. And I’ve been left floundering, a little uncertain as to how to walk into this new season.
I know what “normal” fall looks like, but I don’t know what this fall looks like. This particular fall with school delays and the looming possibility of school closures. This particular fall with mask requirements and a fight-to-the-death presidential election ahead. This particular fall with some things open and some things still closed. This particular fall with so much uncertainty and waiting still fogging the air around us when all we want is “normal” again.
Or do we?
Last Sunday, I stepped back into our church to worship in person again for the first time since March. March. But while I was back in my normal worship setting, I wasn’t the same, normal person anymore. The person who stepped back into the worship center in August is different than the person who worshipped there in March. I’m humbled by my frailties, more aware of my needs, more hungry for authentic fellowship, more desirous of rest, deep rest, than constant, hurried busyness and striving. I’m more aware of my sin and tendencies towards sin, but I’m also more aware of God’s desire to give grace. I’m more confident of my place at His table; I’m more confident of the meal of His broken body and poured out blood that is consistently set before me; and I’m hungrier and more aware of wanting to offer the same meal of mercy and grace that I’ve tasted to others.
So the real answer is “No. I don’t ever want to go back to ‘normal’ again.” I deeply desire the new normal, the new sharpened vision of and taste for the Kingdom of God and my place at His table.
I know so many of us feel that same way. Going back to “normal” sounds unthinkable and undesirable (except for the normal of our kids going back to school and staying there – please, Lord). But the new normal has yet to unfold.
So how do we go back to restaurants and gyms, churches and schools, office buildings and after-school activities with us looking so differently than we did before? How do we go back with our security more firmly planted in the love of the Lord and His firm, unfailing faithfulness than before? And let’s be honest – why would we want to go back when our security in things we thought were unshakeable was ripped out in a moment? Why we would ever want to go back to planting ourselves in shakeable things?
If we all have learned one thing throughout COVID-19, we have learned this: the only unshakeable thing and the only shakeable one is God alone. Schools? Shakeable. Stable healthcare? An illusion. Wealth, bank accounts, portfolios, investments, our entire economic structure as a nation? Gone in a moment.
The only thing that holds us up is the unshakeable Hand of God. Period. End of story.
But please don’t hear this is an admonition; this is truly an admission and a request.
I don’t want to go back. But I also don’t know how to step into “normal” again while maintaining the changes God has worked from the inside out these last few months.
I so keenly want rhythm, routine, and a predictable schedule, and I really, really, really want, my kids to go to school and stay in school.
But more than that, I want my unfailing support to be God Himself. And He alone knows when our time of waiting needs to be finished. Until then, every moment we have in the uncertainty, in the fog, in the waiting, is a gift from Him.
So let’s not waste it.
Let’s press into it. Let’s make the most of it. Let’s allow God to do the work only God can do – uprooting our hearts from shakeable things and planting them in the only thing that lasts – Himself.
So don’t stop pressing into the goodness of God and faithful presence of God in this season of still waiting. Don’t stop seeking Him first and foremost in His Word. Don’t stop crying out and telling Him how you are really doing, not supposed to be doing. Don’t stop doing the work of digging, and seeking, and knocking, and asking, and listening that this season of waiting has given us pause to take.
Every moment of waiting, every week of uncertain pausing, every day of dependent searching, is a gift. Because as the people of God, we are promised the presence of God every time we ask, seek, and knock. And we are promised that door we have been knocking on all of our lives will be opened when we seek God with all of our hearts. And when it is, what we will find on the other side is God Himself, and we will not be disappointed. God alone is worth all of our waits.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened…If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:7-8, 11
For more encouragement on waiting, asking, seeking, and knocking throughout the week, consider going through my Biblestudy Waiting on the Lord, found HERE by clicking on this link.