There is still a lot of talk of the “new normal,” “returning to normal,” and “there is no going back to normal.” What does this mean? I have questions; What is normal? What is normal for me and what is normal for you? Since when was my normal or yours no longer normal?
6 For I, the Lord, do not change,
and you, sons of Jacob, do not cease to be.
7 Since the days of your ancestors you have turned aside
from my statutes and have not kept them.
Return to me, that I may return to you,
says the Lord of hosts.
But you say, “Why should we return?”
[Malachi 3:6-7 – New American Bible Revised Edition]
First, I looked up the word “normal” in my old dictionary.1 This one is old enough to not use slang and gives me the intended English meaning of the word:
“Normal adj. 1. Conforming, adhering to or constituting a typical or usual standard, pattern, level or type… 5a. Relating to or characterized by average intelligence or development. b. Free from mental illness : SANE. n. 1. Something normal : STANDARD. 2. The expected or usual state, form, amount, or degree. 3a. Correspondence to a norm. b. An average.”
Does our normal change? It can. In fact, if we didn’t change, we would not grow or even think for ourselves. Changing is one of the most normal and healthiest things we do in life. When we discover new information, it is normal to change. We do not know everything and this is how we learn.
In Malachi 3, the scripture states, the Lord does not change. This is because He is God and He does not bend, compromise, or change who He is, and this means we can depend on him.
Right now, our world is out of our control. Day after day, the media pummels us with disasters and persecutions. Is this the world’s idea of a “new normal?” There is no new way to “normal.” When the world says “this way is normal” and then, forces it on a person with laws and pressure, it is the furthermost thing from normal. We cannot depend on this new normal.
When will the world learn? Pressuring people to follow a way that is unproven or does not follow natural law is peer pressure at best, bullying, and persecution at worst. When I look at history, all of these things are bad. Think of Daniel in the lion’s den, or Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the furnace. How about the Christians in Rome or Jews in Nazi Germany? Christians in China and Russia? The list goes on and on until this day. If we look at history, any ‘new normal’ is a lie.
This ‘new normal’ is a way to force God out of our world. While I find comfort in God’s steadfast love, this does not fit with the current world view. Through the ages, man and principalities have tried to push God out. The problem for them is God does not change. He continues to love everyone of us while we wander in our own thoughts. Remember we are spiritual beings. While we might accept a ‘new normal’ for a time. Truth eventually surfaces and our spirits draw us to God’s truth.
Can we return to normal? Yes! There in Malachi 3:7 is the invitation: “Return to me, that I may return to you.” Returning to normal is returning to truth and light. When God’s people return to Him, it opens the door for God to step back into our lives. He is not pushy, nor is He a bully. He simply promises to return to us when we return to Him.
Is it true what they are screaming? “There’s no going back to normal?” I don’t believe so. I look at history. World leaders have walked this road of death before. Over and over they have fallen before the True God; Babylon, Rome, Hitler, Stalin, and yes, even the evil Kings of Israel and Judah (see the books of Kings and Chronicles). Did they stop God by changing the normal, No. They could not stop His judgments against sin, because they did not return to Him.
There is something else “they” can not stop. God’s love and blessings. There has always been a remnant that remains faithful. Because the remnant knows; God is the creator, He is all powerful and His blessings rest on those who choose Him over this world. And the remnant is the faithful who pray.
He is our spiritual normal. Our God who says, “For I, the Lord, do not change.” Because of who He is, we take comfort in His love. He gives us a choice: “Return to me, that I may return to you, says the Lord of hosts.”
What will we answer? Will we answer like those in our scripture today? But you say, “Why should we return?” or will we decide to return with repentance and praise? God does not force these decisions. He lays out the paths before us and gives us the freedom to choose which way we will turn.
Please pray with me:
Father, we return to you today as lost children. Physical storms, lies, and war have battered us in this year of loss. We leave the noise of the world behind. No matter how much hate we see or how alone we feel, You are our Father who never leaves us. You stand with us in the battle. When the world defeats us, You are the one that helps us survive and comforts us in our grief. We thank You for Your Holy Spirit to get us through these tough times. Thank You for sending Your Son Jesus to give us a path to Your presence through salvation and by sending the Holy Spirit to comfort us on earth. We are truly grateful.
When we are victorious, it is because of You. We glorify You in every miracle and success. Bring Your people out of the terror and back to your normal. Guard and guide them to your way. Guide us in the path we need to take today. Give us wisdom and understanding that we may Glorify You in all we do. Let us proclaim Your Truth in this world without fear. In Jesus’ name, amen. In the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.
As believers let us be encouraged in the fact that our normal is God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. He says “For I, the Lord, do not change.” Let us return to His normal and stay on the path He lays out for us!
May God’s Peace rest on your shoulders today,
1Webster’s II New College Dictionary Third Edition – Note: I left out the definitions related to the sciences and math because, this discussion uses ‘normal’ in the spiritual sense of the word.