THE current Normal
Yesterday we celebrated the Resurrection like we never have never before. At least not in my lifetime. There were no worship teams, no egg hunts, no cantatas, no choirs, no pews, no Sunday Best.
Yesterday at my house it was just my wife and I in jammies in front of the TV streaming church services.
My guess is that your story, if not exactly the same, is similar.
COVID, COVID, COVID. I would love JUST ONE DAY without talking about it, thinking about it, dreaming about it. I long for a day free of any Corona anything.
As we all walk through this strange season of COVID Quarantine, there was, and is, a desire to return to normal. A desire to go back to Church, go back to work, go back to school, go back to eating out, go back to. . . . normal life!
A desire for anything that is normal.
But What If We Didn’t?
Don’t get me wrong, I am ready for this thing to be over. I am praying for people to get back to work and have their lives handed back to them. To leave home and do things. I weep for those who have died of this virus, and the families who are mourning. It is horrible. Absolutely horrible.
At some point, things will return to what they were. But there is something in me that doesn’t want it to return to exactly what it was before. Something that tells me we have been given an opportunity to reset and refocus on what needs to return, and what needs to be set aside for something better.
THE OLD NORMAL
Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. – John 21:3
After the Resurrection, life had changed for the disciples. Everything was over. They had walked with Jesus, heard his voice, watched His death and seen him alive again. They had felt the greatest joy and the deepest pain, and now it was seemingly over.
Without a direction, they decided to go back to Normal. For them, normal was fishing, and so fishing they went. They essentially moved on as if it never happened, and took a three year trip into the past and picked up where they left off: in a fishing boat.
BUT THAT IS NOT WHAT WAS MEANT FOR THEM
Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. – John 21:4
They went back to normal, and were miserable. Until Jesus intervened. While the disciples went back to fishing and catching no fish (which seemed to happen to them often) Jesus was waiting.
Waiting for them to notice his presence. Waiting for their attention. Waiting for them to walk back out of their ‘old’ normal into the better things that he had for them.
He finally called out to them, “Do you have any fish?” Of course, the answer was “No”. Jesus does the same to us when we return to a Christ-less, Faith-less normal:
“So I see you went back to what was normal before you knew me. How’s that working for you?”
Our answer is always the same as Peter’s: “It’s not working at all.”
So why do we try it?
Jesus said “Try fishing my way and throw the net to the other side” . Of course, they caught a lot of fish doing it his way. 153 to be exact.
The disciples were never meant to go back to normal. There was a new normal created for them where they were not fishermen but fishers of men. They were anointed and ordained Shepherds of people and bearers of the Good News.
Peter was so miserable in his own decision to return to normal that once he realized Jesus was on the shore he jumped out and swam back to him. A tired, wet, depressed and defeated old fisherman who had finally had enough.
Once he returned to Jesus, there is no recorded evidence to suggest he returned to the boat.
Let’s try a new normal
When this is over, we will return to normal. But it is my prayer that we will focus our eyes on Christ NOW, that we will prepare our hearts for normal BEFORE we get there, and decide who we will be.
Yesterday we celebrated an empty tomb and a risen king.
Right now, he is standing on the shore, waiting for us to follow him before this is all over. Should we try to return to the boat, to normal, to stress, to politics, to anger, to whatever distraction we thought we needed before, I pray to God that we figure it out quick, jump out of it and swim hard away from it.
Will we go back to a life based on what we know, or based on who he is?
Will we struggle in our own abilities, or succeed in his?
I am praying that when all this is over, I will be a better man than I was before all this, to emerge with a desire to do life in his strength and not my own.
I tried all that before and ended up with a lot of empty nets.
My family, my community and my God require something better.