A New Normal

(A recording of the message can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/Mt-Pleasant-Church-217280534873/)

Thank you…

Calls, texts, gifts (Rose Bush from MPC), meals, all of it!

 

Isaiah 42: 9

See, the former things have taken place,
and new things I declare;
before they spring into being
I announce them to you.”

 

The phrase “new normal” has been defined as:

 

Screen: The current state of being after some dramatic change has transpired. What replaces the expected, usual, typical state after an event occurs.

 

Because of the Covid-19 Pandemic, the phrase new normal has been at the forefront of everyone’s minds for the past couple of months. As a world, we now understand that to mean that the way we interact with each other will probably change forever. How we choose to be in public settings will probably change. How we view hygiene will become different. This has so many ramifications for us…especially in the church where we love to shake hands and give hugs.

 

A couple of weeks into our suspension of activities as a church, I felt the Lord saying to my spirit, that when we came back together for the first time, I needed to preach on this idea of “new normal.”  I sort of had in mind where the Lord wanted me to go with it, too.

 

Little did I know, that on a very personal level, I, along with all our family and friends (including you, our church family) would be experiencing the new normal that we are now…life on this earth without Marti.

However, the Lord makes it clear in His word, written through King Solomon, that we would live in an ever changing, non-static world. Consider these words from

 

Screen: Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8:

 

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing (Pandemic),
    a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

 

This whole new normal time we find ourselves in got me thinking about all the new normal’s I have experienced over the years. You might be able to relate to some of these.

 

When I left home for college, I would never return to live in my parent’s home. I was venturing out on my own, making many of my own decisions, good or bad, and trusting God for my future.

 

When Marti and I got married, I thought I knew how to dress myself (as far as things matching, wearing cowboy boots with suspenders, etc).  And I did not know before my new normal of marriage that I did not know how to fold towels.  But I didn’t. I needed to be trained. I can now fold towels like nobody’s business!

 

Before Marti and I became parents, we only planned our lives around our schedules. We didn’t have to consider anyone else within our own household.

 

But on October 13, 1990, we walked into a hospital room as two, but left as three. We were experiencing our new normal as a family, welcoming Tyler Drew into this world.

 

Suddenly our new normal involved sleepless nights and dirty diapers. Our schedule was now dictated by a 7 and a half pound baby boy. When Marti went back to work as a nurse on nights, Tyler and I got to spend at least 4 nights a week with just the two of us. Tyler was a colicky baby and it took a period of time for us to figure out why. Almost every night when Marti was at work, I would call her and ask, what do I do now?

 

Many times, in the middle of the night, I would put Tyler in the car and drive around town. That was the only thing that seemed to keep him comforted.

 

To this day, we call it The mash potato incident…Tyler was in his high chair and I was feeding him some mash potatoes. I gave him the first bite and he wouldn’t eat it. In fact, he started crying over it. C’mon Ty, you’ve had mash potatoes before! I tried again, same results. So I thought I would try them myself. They couldn’t be that bad! Well, they were about 200 degrees! I felt horrible. Even today, Tyler runs from mash potatoes!

 

16 months later, on February 27, 1992, our new normal included our second child, Katie. This was basically two babies at one time and that definitely rocked our world. Katie was easily our easiest baby…thank the Lord!

 

And almost four years after that, on December 13, 1995, came Jared…another new normal. And three kids, compared to two, does make a difference! Jared was kind of in between as a baby, compared to his siblings. But it didn’t take long to find out he would be the comedian of the family.

 

In the summer of 2002, Marti was diagnosed with Lupus. Another new normal. Obviously not one we would have ever asked for. And as you know, that diagnosis set us on a journey that would bring her, and our family, one new normal after another.

 

During the past 29 years, I have served in five difference congregations. Each time a new normal for me personally and my family.

 

This past Monday when I came into the office, someone texted me and asked me how I was doing. I told them I wasn’t sure. I felt like I was starting a whole new job. I had never been in ministry without Marti. Their response?

 

Your ministry will be different and it’ll be a day by day journey. 

 

But that person also said this: We’re in it with you. Love you Brother.

 

I was reminded in that moment, that our God is a God of the new normal.

 

Consider these Scriptures:

 

2 Corinthians 5: 17…

 

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!

 

 

Psalm 40: 3

 

He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.

 

Isaiah 43: 19

Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.

 

On Screen: Revelation 21: 5

 

 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

 

Nothing surprises our Lord.

 

He knew this Pandemic was coming. He knew Marti would be entering her eternal home.

 

The peace that we can have in the midst of whatever new normal we face is that God remains faithful. In every new normal I have faced over the years, God was there. And even though He is all about newness, His character stays the same.

Screen (the next 3 passages) : Hebrews 13: 8 reminds us that:

 

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Malachi 3: 6

 

“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.

 

Psalm 119: 89

 

89 Forever, O Lord, your word
is firmly fixed in the heavens.

 

As a church we are facing new normal(s). The same is true for our:

 

Families, our city, state, country and world.

 

New Normal’s? They will always be. It’s a part of the journey of life…the journey with Jesus.

 

Conclusion…I know this to be true. God has been by our side as a family for the past 32 years. He has carried us when we couldn’t carry ourselves. He has picked us up when we were down. He has encouraged us when discouragement seemed overwhelming. He has mended our broken hearts time and time again.

 

Now that Marti has finished her race on this earth, I have no reason to think that He will not be my side…by the side of our kids…by our side as a church…

 

Forgive me if it seems as though my mind is adrift at times…at least for a while. I do know and trust my Anchor. I’m just navigating my new normal.

 

Prayer…