A New Normal!
A New Normal!
As the clock struck midnight and we rang in the 2020 New Year, who could have imagined that 40 days later we would find ourselves in the throes of a worldwide pandemic! As I researched the timeline, in January everyone was excited about having perfect 20/20 vision, double portions and a decade of destiny. (Talk about speaking something into existence!) Who could have possibly known that in mid-February (approximately 40 days later) that COVID-19 would be a “thing” in the U.S.? Who knew in January that all the positive connotations associated with the coming of a New Year and a new decade would be turned upside down? I’ll tell you who knew–GOD DID! Scripture tells us in Isaiah 46:10 that God knows our future; He knows the end from the beginning, which is why COVID-19 may have caught us totally off guard, but it wasn’t a surprise to God. Now, as we find ourselves approaching the Day of Pentecost, this year on May 31, 2020, let’s examine the book of Isaiah.
Isaiah is a powerful book of prophecy indicative of the times in which we now live. In Chapter 43, the Prophet Isaiah talks about God being the one true God–our Savior. He reminds us that God is always with us and that He loves us (v. 3-5)! In Chapter 45, Isaiah reminds us that it’s God who sends the good times and the bad times and salvation is the response to both (v. 7-8). In Chapter 46, the Prophet tells us that NOTHING can compare to the love and care of God, and only He knows our future. I like the New Living Translation for verse 10, it reads;
“Only I [God] can tell you the future
before it even happens.
Everything I plan will come to pass,
for I do whatever I wish.
The Prophet Jeremiah echoes Isaiah’s sentiment in Jeremiah 29:11 when he said, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” As you can see, God knows our future–COVID-19 did NOT catch Him off guard! So, what are we to learn from this pandemic that seemingly came out of nowhere and changed the entire trajectory of the year, the decade and possibly our lives?
In April I mentioned three examples in scripture when a paradigm shift occurred after God instructed His people to shelter-in-place until the danger passed. Well, the other day a friend sent me a text message that defined the meaning of the word ‘quarantine’ that blew me away, so the conversation continues.
The English word quarantine is a derivative of the Latin word quadraginta, which means a period or space of 40 days. In scripture, the number 40 has always been significant. As I dug deeper into this quarantine thing, Holy Spirit led me to four instances in Scripture connected to the number 40. In Genesis, of course, there is Noah and the flood that lasted 40-days (Gen. 6-9); Moses stayed on Mt. Sinai 40 days on two separate occasions (Ex. 24:18, 34:28); the Exodus out of Egypt lasted 40 years; and, last but not least, Jesus fasted 40 days in the wilderness (Mk. 4:1-11). Time and space won’t allow me to go in-depth on each of these Bible stories; however, I invite you to re-read each story for yourself with the perspective of today’s message–A New Normal–in mind.
So, what is our new normal? Will we land on dry ground like Noah? Will we roam around the for the next 40 days, 40 months, or 40 years in despair like the Children of Israel? Will we take time to be still and wait to hear from God for our next move like Moses did on Mt. Sinai? Or, will we come out of this time of trial and testing triumphant like Jesus? The choice is ours.
The truth is, during this time of quarantine, ultimately God’s plan will prevail. He knows exactly where we are and which path we will choose to follow before we do. While it’s important to remember that, yes, God is omniscient (all knowing), omnipotent (having all power), and omnipresent (present everywhere), He also gave us free will so that we can make our own choices. He will not exercise His power to override our free will or our ability to choose.
I’m sure you’ve all heard the scripture from Joshua 24:15 that reads, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” That means, YES, to a great extent we get to choose what our new normal will look like. IF we heed God’s voice and His commands (see Isaiah 48:18).
The question of the hour is, when this pandemic ends (and it will end), and COVID-19 is no longer a serious threat, what will our new normal look like? One could argue that depends on what choices we make NOW.
How are you spending your time during this quarantine? More than just washing hands, wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and watching Netflix, here are a few suggestions to consider from God’s Eye View:
- Establish a regular routine. Whether you are working inside or outside your home, or not working at all, set a schedule, establish a NEW routine, and stick to it. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals. Exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep.
- Become a Hope Dealer. Spread joy, love and hope to others. Have a video chat–Zoom meetings are all the rage now. Go old school, don’t text-talk, actually pick up the phone and talk to someone! Eat together as a family (remember family dinner time sitting at the kitchen table?). Write a letter, send a card, flowers or an edible arrangement to a loved one, especially an essential worker or senior in a nursing home or someone you can/shouldn’t visit in person.
- Establish a daily prayer and devotion time. Even Jesus spent time in prayer and devotion to God. Read your Bible or a devotional daily. Learn to meditate on the Word.
- Spend time in nature. This may or may not be possible given where you live or if parks and public places are still closed. For me, I love to sit in my backyard early in the morning (weather permitting) and just watch the birds and the squirrels. Spending time watching God’s creatures allows us to recognize God’s providence and provision.
- Practice Spiritual Self-care. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Being on lockdown or in isolation for extended periods of time can have a negative effect on our heart and mind. Seek to eliminate negative people and images from your life. Fill your senses with positive affirmations, people and things that bring you joy.
- Practice Faith Not Fear. I know it’s hard right now. Many people are laid off and don’t have income and don’t know how they are going to make it. But now is NOT the time to fear. More than ever, NOW is the time to increase our faith and bombard heaven with our prayers. Again, I point to the book of Isaiah:
1″…Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 2When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze 3 For I am the Lord your God,the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” (Isaiah 43:1-3)
Personally, I hope things NEVER go back to the way they were before. What does the future hold? What “NEW NORMAL” can we look forward to? My prayer is we will come out of this time of quarantine more victorious, more connected to God and to family; more aware of God’s purpose in our lives; more prayerful, more compassionate; more emphatic for those less fortunate than ourselves; and more grateful to God for what we have rather than what we don’t have. It’s up to us; We must have faith, believe God and Be careful, Be prayerful, but never fearful (2 Tim. 1:7).
God bless you,