Normal Life

I have found myself repeatedly saying that I’m ready to get back to “normal life”. My days being so consumed with painting, trips to salvage yards and home improvement stores, decisions about flooring, light fixtures and paint colors have taken me away from the things I would rather spend my time and energy doing. For one, I really like to read books that direct my heart to the Gospel and remind me of the many ways I drift away from trusting Him to trusting myself instead. I like to have more space and time for thinking through these things, teaching them and in general, being more intentional with my children and in my relationships. I enjoy relationships far more than tasks, (even though tasks can be far more simple and straight forward). As each of these things have fallen off the map, I feel at the mercy of this whirlwind of a season I’m in and I want to return to “normal life”.

Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him. Daniel 2:20-22

What I apparently mean by “normal life” is a more predictable daily routine in which I feel control over my schedule and environment. When seasons of life come in which I feel out of control and the intentional living is replaced with either survival or the overwhelming immediate, I consider that abnormal. Interestingly, God had to remind me that normal life isn’t about my control, but His. When I feel unintentional, He is still totally intentional. There is no season of my life or the history of human life in which He is not exhaustively intentional and in beautiful, life-giving, redemptive control of all things.

Then Job answered the LORD and said: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Job 42:1-3

I am so quick to assume that my children will turn out well if I am intentional, that I will have effective ministry if I am focused and disciplined, that life will be smooth if I can be organized and that I am “with God” more in seasons where I am doing all these things than the ones that find me dragged by my circumstances like a cowboy being dragged on the ground by his horse through a desert. I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. Gal. 1:6-7 The different gospel, which is really not good news at all, is that it is by grace I have been saved and by works I can remain. Carson Pittman spoke about this yesterday in his sermon at Atlanta Westside. When my security in Him (which includes confidence not only in His pleasure with me but also that He will produce fruit for my life to bear) shifts from the person and work of Jesus to the person and work of me, I have once again “fallen from grace” – or abandoned grace as my lifeline and grabbed hold of something else entirely. Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Cor. 3:4-6 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16

This season I am in now, and have been in before (between schools, between jobs, with a newborn baby, with two children under three, selling a house, renovating a house, moving, the death of a loved one, etc.) IS normal life in God’s kingdom and in His economy. There is no intermission, time out, off track or otherwise distinction in seasons when it comes to the Gospel. Not one circumstance is outside the reach of His redemptive presence nor outside the realm of His redemptive purposes. My distractedness, the physical exhaustion which accompanies the demands of the moment, the limitations of time, or the unpredictable nature of certain season are all incapable of thwarting His plans and purposes. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. John 17:3 Oh this is indeed such GOOD news! In this I can rest, with confidence in the security of His accomplishments on my behalf rather than the ebb and flow of my sense of self-reliant “normalcy”. Normal life stops being defined by my control over circumstances and some ideal of stress free living to knowing Him. What season or circumstance exists that cannot draw me deeper into the knowledge of Him and intimacy with Him?

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