How often have you heard this?
“Oh, if only my life could get back to normal.”
Or … “What a crazy year this has been. I can’t wait until things get back to normal.”
We wait for the dust to settle, and when it finally does, nothing is ever quite the same. The one constant in life seems to be change.
You know how it is. The kids go off to college and the empty bedroom shouts soundlessly as you tiptoe past the door. You long for the piles of laundry, the milk jug left out on the table overnight, the surprise of the empty gas tank. One peek at a baby book can bring tears to your eyes. Where did those babies go? And who are you, now that you are no longer “Mommy” or “Daddy”?
I watched as my mother aged and gradually slipped away; then came the day that I realized I was just a few years behind her. Eyes dim, life narrows, options disappear. We are startled and saddened by the occasional loss of a friend who was in first grade with us. We begin to grasp the fact that not all of our dreams will come true, at least not on this side of eternity.
Moving from the Temporal to Eternal
Change—a series of “new normals” for us. Is there anything good about change? It comes to all of us as our mortality presses in. But as Christians we have a choice. We can fight it, or we can let Scripture inform the process.
What does Isaiah tell us about change?
A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the LORD blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.
There is a difference between the temporal and the eternal. All flesh is grass. And Scripture indicates that it can be very beautiful. Who has not marveled at a field of summer wildflowers waving in the breeze? But those exquisite blossoms will wither; they are going to die.
Why do they wither? Because the Spirit of the Lord blows on them. God causes them to wither. Now why would God do that?
There is a reason. We who believe in Christ are in the process of being weaned from the temporal to the eternal. The things that we love on this earth are temporal. There is no permanence in any of them, and God has arranged it that way.
The Lord allows me to fall in love with these things to draw the love out of me, to give me a desire for that beautiful and elusive joy that he has prepared for me. I go through change after change as I move toward eternity. I experience loss, I mourn, I release that which I love to my Father. Little by little, I move toward him; I experience more of his love and grace. I am thrown back on the unchanging One, the One who will one day gather me into his arms.
Grounding in Scripture
Scripture is key to this process. It gives me a constant grounding as the “new normals” move me along toward my eternal future with Christ. Painful as they are, God is there to rock me in his arms, as the prophet Zephaniah reminds us.
The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
Psalm 63 walks us through this lifelong process of constant change. From the barren desert of Judah, David sings to us a reminder of the unfailing love of our Father, love that is better than life. Steadfast, unchanging, it alone can satisfy our hearts. When sleep refuses to come, God gives songs of deliverance in the darkness.
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.
“New normals” will come; sometimes at breakneck speed. We wonder why.
In times like these, if we quiet our hearts and listen to God’s words recorded in Scripture, we will hear God’s voice comforting us during life’s transitions. God will whisper, “You are mine. Come here and let me give you my song. Rest in the shadow of my wings. Be satisfied in my love. All is well, my beloved.”
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