Although I now live 3,000 outside the U.S., I have been excited to see more and more of my friends returning to some version of “normal” in their lives. To be honest, we are quite jealous when we see our Iowa friends eating at restaurants, hosting friends and family at home, and returning to work. It’s been exciting to see churches returning to meeting in person once more, and I am proud of the hard work they have taken to make such a return safe. While I know it will take even more time to fully return to normal, I continue to pray that the virus meets its defeat in the near future. Like many of you, I have frequented found myself uttering the phrase “I can’t wait to return to normal!” I am tired of being stuck in my house, and I am itching to return to normalcy in my job, my habits, my friendship, my church, and my family. And frankly, I would give my right arm to watch some live sports again. As I think about it though, do I really truly want to return to normal? Should normal be our goal?
Here’s a big question: was our “normal” really that great? If we’re honest, were we really doing a good job of being who God made us to be before this pandemic hit? Were we being good disciples, witnesses, fathers, sons, husbands, leaders, workers, and servants? My personal answer would be a big fat no. If you’re like me, you don’t need to return to normal, you need a new beginning. John 14 gives us a great picture of what this new beginning should look like.
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. John 14:12-17
Jesus is telling us to take four big steps.
1. Serve others, just as Jesus has served you (v. 12)
2. Pray big and bold prayers (v. 13-14)
3. Follow God’s commandments (v. 15)
4. Listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit (v. 16-17).
As horrible as this virus is, I believe this can be a time for all of us to examine how we are living life, and to make a commitment to more fully live for God. I encourage you to really look at this verse this week and commit to following these four steps Jesus calls us to take. Don’t return to normal, but instead start being who God has called you to be.