What Does Your Normal Look Like?

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the definition of the word normal is: “ordinary or usual; as would be expected.”  Merriam-Webster says: ”conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern.”

When Moses lead the Israelites out of slavery, they were pursued by the Egyptian army, they came up to the Red Sea with no way to escape and they thought it was all over for them.  But God made a way.  According to Exodus 14:21-30a (NET)  “Moses stretched out his hand toward the sea, and the Lord drove the sea apart by a strong east wind all that night, and he made the sea into dry land, and the water was divided.  So the Israelites went through the middle of the sea on dry ground, the water forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.  The Egyptians chased them and followed them into the middle of the sea—all the horses of Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen. In the morning watch the Lord looked down on the Egyptian army through the pillar of fire and cloud, and he threw the Egyptian army into a panic.  He jammed the wheels of their chariots so that they had difficulty driving, and the Egyptians said, ‘Let’s flee from Israel, for the Lord fights for them against Egypt!’  The Lord said to Moses, ‘Extend your hand toward the sea, so that the waters may flow back  on the Egyptians, on their chariots, and on their horsemen!’  So Moses extended his hand toward the sea, and the sea returned to its normal (emphasis mine) state when the sun began to rise.  Now the Egyptians were fleeing before it, but the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the middle of the sea. The water returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen and all the army of Pharaoh that was coming after the Israelites into the sea—not so much as one of them survived!  But the Israelites walked on dry ground in the middle of the sea, the water forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.  So the Lord saved Israel on that day from the power of the Egyptians…”  

This story can be somewhat reflective of our lives at times.  We are going along, everything seems to be just fine, then hell seems to release it’s fury on us – things are turned upside down and our life is in turmoil.  It feels as though we are trapped with no place to go.  If we are smart we will cry out to God for help and guidance.  He can and will lead us through the situations we face if we will only trust Him.  The solution we are presented with may be very unexpected for us, as I am sure the parting of that sea before the Israelites was to them.  I would think there was likely some fear among them as they could see the huge walls of water on each side, but they were determined to move forward in spite of that fear.  We may think about what we believe God is wanting us to do in order to move on through our situation and we too feel fearful – but we must continue on.  As we come out on the other side we can look back and realize that once again things are normal, just like the Red Sea was after they crossed through it with walls of water held up on both sides of them and the bottom totally dry.  God held off your issues so that you could confidently find your way to the other side and experience victory over those enemies. 

Forty years later, after the crossing of the Red Sea, there is a similar story told to us in Joshua chapters 13 & 14.  Moses had died and Joshua was now their leader.  The Israelites have been wandering in the desert and are finally at the place where God is going to allow them to cross over into their promised land.  They arrived at the Jordan river and must cross it in order to claim what the Lord has given them.  They see a river swollen out of it’s banks and likely running very fast and they had to wonder how they could possibly cross it; but, Joshua tells them to follow the priests that are carrying the Ark of the Covenant and cross over to claim their inheritance. 

“So the people set out from their tents to cross the Jordan River, with the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant in full view of the people.  When the priests who carried the ark entered the Jordan River, as their feet touched the water’s edge (The Jordan River overflows all of its banks daily during the harvest season), the water flowing downstream from above stood still in a single location, a great distance away at Adam, a city near Zarethan. The water that flowed south toward the sea in the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed opposite Jericho.  The priests who were carrying the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan River, while all Israel crossed on dry ground until the entire nation had finished crossing the Jordan River.”  (Joshua 3:14-17 ISV)  Then in Joshua 4:15-18 ISV it says: “Now the Lord had told Joshua, ‘Command the priests who carry the Ark of the Testimony to come up from the Jordan River.’  So Joshua ordered the priests, ‘Come up from the Jordan River.’  As soon as the priests who were carrying the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord had come up from the middle of the Jordan River, and the soles of the priests’ feet came up to dry ground, the water of the Jordan River returned to normal (emphasis mine), covering its banks as it had done so before.”  With this event, the Israelites were not fleeing their “hard times” as slaves to the Egyptians as it was when they crossed through the Red Sea; but, they were now crossing from their life as wanderers to become an established nation – to their new, promised life.   

There are times that we come to a point in our lives that we believe we are moving onto something bigger and better that God has for us – a new, promised life; but, we may have a “river” to cross – problems that could thwart our progress.  We move forward in faith but we can see those problems still hanging back there in the distance and it seems as though they could come crashing down on us at any second.  At that point we must keep fear and uncertainty at bay and our eyes on God – on the promise He’s given us – in order to reach out and achieve what is waiting there for us “on the other side”.  Once we do that we can see things returning to normal.  After that we can reach out for what is before us. 

But in reality, is our life truly returning to normal?  If we have truly escaped our “taskmasters” and faced our fears and crossed into a new and promising life is our life going to be normal?  Maybe it is going to be our “new normal”.  Well….I prefer to believe it will be a better normal.          

The turmoil our nation has been experiencing the past few months has brought about a lot of changes to our society.  Some of them not so bad – others not so good.  Some of those changes may stick and others may fade into the sunset.  One of the catchy phrases that has been kicked about a lot is “new normal.”  I will be totally honest here and tell you that I am sick and tired of hearing that phrase.  I do not want a “new” normal – I just want normal – or better yet, a better normal. 

They have talked about how with the “new normal” we should quit shaking hands, how we are going to have to wear face masks when we travel on trains, planes and automobile-ride services.  You are going to have to stay at least 6’ away from people in restaurants, in church, as you shop in grocery and department stores.  You have to wear full gloves and preferably masks to go to the gym to get some exercise and you should wear gloves when you touch the handles as you pump gas into your car.  Children can go back to school but may have to go in shifts so that they can sit far enough apart; and, on their playgrounds they have to stay in their own little squares and wave at their playmates from a distance.

To me it feels like the whole world has gone absolutely nuts!  So called “experts” cannot make up their minds about what to do about anything.  We do not need masks; we do need masks.  Wearing a mask too long is unhealthy; you must wear a mask at all times to protect others.  We cannot possibly have a vaccine any quicker than 18 to 24 months; we are going to have a vaccine before summer is over.  You absolutely should not allow children to go back to school in the Fall; children need to be back in school in the Fall.  You can only go to the store for food and other essential items that can be bought in that store; but, you absolutely cannot buy any seeds or plants, paint or carpet.  You can go out on the lake in a kayak; but, you cannot go out in a motor boat.  This long-time prescribed and proven medication can help people early in their diagnosis of the virus or as a preventative to catching the virus; NO! that medicine will kill you.  This study has proven how dangerous that medicine is;…but wait, that study was fraudulent and has been discounted!  It is okay to go out among the huge crowds to protest and/or riot, say the doctors, it is not going to make a difference with the spread of the virus;….BUT, if you are not going out to those gatherings you need to stay home and stay safe!  It is okay to go to the giant chain stores where there are many more people; but, you cannot shop in the small family-owned businesses because they will not allow them to even open up!      

“Stay home – stay safe” they screamed at us – another one of their catchy little phrases that irks me.  It is not healthy for people to be closed up in their homes for such long periods of time they say…but you just cannot be going out except for essential needs; Oh, but wait – it came to a point in New York (and probably other places if we were told the whole story) the epicenter of the pandemic that more people were coming down with the virus that had been sequestered at home than had been out in public.  

Then to make matters worse, on top of the virus there was a terrible incident of uncalled for brutality toward a man that resulted in his death.  I believe everyone that saw that video was as shocked as I was.  People were upset and wanted to express their outrage.  Now to complicate things we have people that had for the most part been shut up in their homes for weeks and weeks, people that had lost jobs and income and did not know what was going to happen to their lives in the future.  People that were anxious, depressed, angry.  We now have a recipe for an explosion and an explosion we have had.  Rather than gathering to just express their angst and concern it turned into a free for all with buildings and cars being burned, police being attacked, businesses being looted and hundreds of people being injured or killed.  Two weeks later and it still just will not die.  There are those that want to fundamentally change our society and in order to accomplish that they have to keep emotions stirred up.  That is just wrong!

As a nation we cannot continue to endure this disruption indefinitely.  Very soon, we are going to have to face our “Red Sea” and cross through it to escape the enemies that want to control us.  Hopefully we will not have to wander in a desert for 40 years like lost nomads, realizing that we could have had our best life if we had only sought God and followed the direction He had for us.  

We need to approach life as though the Jordan River is in front of us now and we can cross it – even with the deep and overflowing waters that threaten – and then we can arrive at our better normal.

I do not know how you feel, but I am ready!

Note:  The phrase “better normal” was not an original inspiration to me.  My pastor Jimmy Evans made reference in his sermon this past weekend (June 6-7, 2020) to the “new normal” then suggested that it could be a “better normal.”  I like that – a lot – and as a result, I have this story.

Written by Karran Martin – June 7, 2020          

2 thoughts on “What Does Your Normal Look Like?

  1. I liked when the Red Sea went back to normal it swallowed up the Israelites enemies! Our better normal needs to swallow up our enemies! Thanks

    Like

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