"Why does everything have to change? I like the way things have always been. I don't like change!"
My teenage daughter laid beside me, tears flowing. Her world was changing much too fast and she was having difficulty accepting her new normal.
I'd heard that phrase a few times but never as much as I have this year. After a year of a world wide pandemic, months of quarantine and shut down, we were full of hope at the beginning of 2021. We had the hope of things getting back to normal.
As the year progressed normal didn't seem possible. Just when we were getting used to being out and about a new variant of the disease would emerge and with it more fear and uncertainty. We all had to become accustomed to the new normal.
Maybe like my daughter you've had difficulty accepting and adjusting to this new normal.
But what if this was God's normal all along? Not the fear but the slower pace.
What if, through this terrible pandemic God was teaching us His ways?
What if God was birthing His Kingdom on earth?
What if He was giving us new minds with new attitudes?
What if He was giving us new hearts?
In the midst of us trying to get back to normal, what if God was opening the way to Himself?
We know from Isaiah 55:9 that God's ways are not our ways. It is not God's will for us to suffer yet He allows suffering and difficulties to enter our lives. God uses these trials to teach us His ways. What if that's what He's been doing for the past two years? Turning our attention from the things of this world to the eternal things of His Kingdom.
Stripping away our idea of normal and focusing our attention on a new normal. Forcing us to think about what's most important to us.
Just as I told my daughter all those years ago, I tell you now:
Change is hard but good.
New can be scary but exciting.
And normal means different things in different seasons.
Here are three ways God can use our new normal to make us fresh and new in 2022:
1) God can give us a new mind with new attitudes.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:16 we are to have the mind of Christ. And in Philippians 2:1-5 he gives us a picture of the attitudes that mind is to produce in us. Like Jesus we are to take on the attitude of a humble servant.
Maybe this hard change we've been experiencing the last two years is meant to bring about Christlikeness in us.
To be made fresh and new in 2022 we need to meet God in His Word daily so that His Spirit can teach us how to be like Christ. The best way to do this is to find a reading plan you can stick to. For me this is my One Year Bible. For you it may be listening to the Bible app or to a podcast such as The Bible Recap.
Make your new normal daily interaction with God in His Word.
2) God can give us new hearts.
Ezekiel tells us God will give us tender, responsive hearts but first we must remove the idols from our lives. (Ezekiel 11:18-19)
These last two years have revealed many idols in my life. As a result I've spent time confessing, repenting, and seeking God. Maybe the same is true for you?
Maybe this new normal we're experiencing is God's way of shaking us out of our complacency and into a vibrant, new exciting relationship with Himself.
To be made fresh and new in 2022 we must commit to daily confession of our sin. The Amplifies Version renders 1 John 1:9:
"If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just [true to His own nature and promises], and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us continually from all unrighteousness [our wrongdoing, everything not in conformity with His will and purpose]."
Confessing sin seems scary but when we keep our confession current our relationship with God becomes new and exciting as we learn to walk in daily fellowship with Him.
Make your new normal daily confession and repentance.
3) God can give us new spiritual understanding.
Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes 3 that there is a season for everything. Just as nature goes through seasons, each with its own benefits, so our spiritual lives go through seasons. Some seasons we are growing spiritually and others we seem stagnant. But even in those seemingly stagnant times