When the Easter season approaches, we tend to find ourselves at a spiritual pinnacle of sorts. As we interact with worship and hear a message of a God who sacrificed everything to be tortured and hung on a cross for us, we find ourselves having a moment of inward evaluation. We think about what needs to change in our lives so that we can be more like the man that gave His life… for us. We’re inundated with visions and sermons and imagery of a changed self, a renewed mind, and an awakened spirit.
Now that Easter is past us, those desires for change and awakening are beginning to fade. We remind ourselves of the tasks ahead, the daily grind settles back in all too easily and our newly found aspirations drift to the background as we head back to this thing we call “normal.”
Normal – now that is a word that is tantalizing as it beckons for us to pursue. Becoming normal is on the tips of our tongues, just beyond our grasp, but at the same time obtainable (we tell ourselves) if we just reach a bit further.
In a world that is nothing like normal, as we spent our Easter at home surrounded by the only ones we are allowed to come into contact with, watching church from a distance, perhaps even in the very pajamas we woke up wearing, we long for the “normal” experience. The pastel dress or the yellow jacket and tie that we only wear once a year. Our children dressed in their best for the chance of capturing that illusive picture where every family member is looking at the camera with their perfect smile set. Smiles that encapsulate that life is normal, life is without struggle, practically perfect in every way, telling the world that we are FINE.
But life is not fine, life is not normal, it is different and it is hard. Especially now.
And the funny things is, as we remember Jesus on the cross, His plans, His triumph, didn’t go the way we thought it would.
The better world did not happen.
The life envisioned did not come to pass.
And right now we’re holding onto the hope of “I can’t wait till it goes back to normal.”
But as we learned from the cross – Jesus’ plan succeeded, He DID triumph, His idea went exactly to plan.
The Cross IS the triumph.
The truth is…Jesus isn’t our typical normal. And He is beckoning us to leave the normal confines of the routine paths that we have created. God doesn’t want us to return back to normal.
Because let’s face it – there are things in our normal that need to die.
There are things in our everyday lives that we can easy do without, and be better for it. Jesus wants us to realize that there is a better life lived just beyond the veil that the world has stealthily put over our faces. This season of change and isolation and reevaluating what is important is not meant to bring us down until our heartbeat lowers to a deathly pulse.
This time can be used to raise us up out of the muck and the mire that is called normalcy and to be placed on the rock that says “Be Like ME! Live a life like Christ!”
A life that looks to others first as you serve your neighbor. And maybe through that service, things anxiety and depression lose their grip.
A life that dives into relationship with the God that created you, who made you exactly as you were supposed to be.
A life where the old self with slips away, and a new creation is born.
A life that sees the old “normal” road as one that no longer needs to be traveled. A life where the old has gone the NEW has come.
This is our opportunity to say, “I am done with normal, I want to be like Christ.”
So what pieces of your normal need to die?
What everyday routines that your flesh is longing to return to need to be a thing of the past?
And as we are striving to shed these “normal” skins and step into a life that looks and serves and loves more like Jesus, all we need to do is look beyond our doorstep to witness the desperate need of our neighbors – both local and across the world.
Our Exchange students are suffering. The worldwide pandemic coupled with the economic backlash that came with it is crippling our student’s ability to make an income and provide for themselves and their families. They are isolated to a point where they need interaction with fellow Believers more than ever. Will you be the source of light in the darkness of their lives? They need immediate aid, and if you have a desire to support, or would like more information about specific needs, please let us know (email@example.com).
And while their situation is dire now, we are drawing hope from the knowledge that soon they will be coming to our doorstep for training that will prevent the current situation they are in from happening again in the future.
With training through Narrow Gate Exchange, they will be able to create businesses that have reserve accounts and contingency plans.
If you feel led, please consider supporting our students through one of these avenues:
- Become a monthly partner by going to ngexchange.org/give
- Praying for our international students: The Muhairwe family, Ivan, Jeremy, LaQuinton, and Keiano
- Engaging with our social media accounts (@ngexchange) on Instagram and Facebook
And I will leave you all with a prayer:
May this be a time, O Lord, that we recognize the “normal” patterns in our lives that bring us down into the world, and away from You. Help us recognize what needs to remain in our lives, and what we need to let go of.
May our “normal” become a life lived for You, where we love God with ALL of our heart, love our neighbors fiercely, and where we are such a light for You God, that others come and know who You are. May this season be one that we look back on as the moment where it all changed, where we changed course and were brought to the Cross and to relationship with You. May it be so…Amen!