Friday, April 24, 2009

Normal - Isn't That a City in Illinois?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an unrealistic idea that has persistently reemerged in my thinking. That is the pie-in-the-sky notion that goes something like this: “When I get past this (name whatever irritation or inconvenience you are currently experiencing – “both children in diapers”, “not enough kitchen counter-top space”, “pain in my knee”, “a house that never stays clean”, “a temporary commitment and deadline”, “doing my laundry at a laundromat”, etc.), things will be “normal” again and life will get easier.”

But what is normal? I know of a city in Illinois that is named “Normal”. And I once heard a woman say that “normal” is really only a setting on the clothes dryer. I’d have to agree with that. Life happens during all of our little and big abnormalities. In fact, those inconvenient abnormalities make up life. Life requires a constant adjustment to all the “whatevers” that the Lord chooses to use for our sanctification. If we put living on hold until after the circumstances pass…well, we will just be missing out on what Jesus called the abundant life.

How we handle these “abnormalities” is what matters. Job 5:7 says, “…man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.” Jesus told us that each day would have enough of its own trouble and therefore not to worry about tomorrow. This world is not perfect. How could it be…you and I live in it?

Why not, instead, look past the annoyances to the One who said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Instead of wishing the trouble away, welcome it as an agent for your change toward Christ-likeness. Don’t contemplate life beyond your trouble. Instead find your life and your joy there amidst the trouble for the Joy Giver is there with you.

This calls for a radical adjustment to our thinking. Thinking “inconvenience or nuisance” implies that my life is interrupted. Rather think this is an “opportunity to depend upon God” for I am His - my life is not my own. Ask Christ for His strength in the task and thank Him when He gives it, then recon that you will be doing this all again tomorrow (remember what Jesus said - "each day has its own trouble"). Do not be surprised; rather know that amidst all the changes, the unchanging Savior is present – Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever. Can you praise and worship Him there in the midst of the annoyance? If so, you will have joy that transcends the disturbance and goes way beyond the desired “normal”.

Once this ever-changing, non-normal, whatever-life is past, we will dwell in the presence of unparalleled perfection and consistent beauty for we will be forever with the Lord. We will never have the desire for “life just to be normal again”. Who would want mundane normalcy in the stunning and indescribably majestic presence of our Lord?

What we must remember is that we can experience His stunning and majestic presence here, even in the midst of the routine irritations of an imperfect world. Dwell in that Presence now for the honor of the One who is perfecting you for that splendid, never-ending, glorious day. Why settle for “normal” when Christ and heaven can be found in the midst of our mundane inconveniences?

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  1. Just caught your blog from a link on Pyro and just had to respond to this post. I write from Ottawa, Ontario in Canada.

    My wife, Kim, was born and raised in Normal, Illinois. All kinds of funstuff with that name.

    I once got her a custom made T-shirt that said: "Far From Normal", which is true on two counts: 1) Ottawa is 1600 miles far from Normal. 2) She is far from 'normal' by nature. And thats why I married her. :)

    And, together, we are far from normal amongst the world because, well, we're Christians. But we wouldn't have it any other way.

    "For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life." (2 Cor:15-16)

    Quite the blog you have here! I'll let my normal wife know about it.

  2. Thanks Paul,

    What fun to hear from someone who has connections to Normal. I know I certainly do not. Loved what you had to say.

    And it is so true, that as Christians, we are not at all what the world would call "normal". We are fanatics for Christ. For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Phil. 1:21)