You guys, it’s been way too long. I have missed writing with all of you like crazy. I did get to sneak a couple posts here and there from honeymoon using my iPhone, but it’s just not the same as sitting down and sharing what’s on my heart with all of you. It’s also been way too long since I steeped myself in all the hope that’s in God’s Word. Seriously, it makes a difference. I had a blast at my wedding (and you know I’m going to show you the official pics when they’re ready, right?) but it’s good to be “back.” This might be a doozy, but here’s what’s really on my mind today…
The other day my husband said something in a prayer that was like the best thing he could have prayed. He said (and I paraphrase), “God, as we get back into our normal routine… Actually, God, don’t let us get back into our normal routine. Help us get into better ways of doing things and help us see where You’re leading us to change…”
It was one of the best things I’ve ever heard.
A “normal” routine is easy for me. Lately, I’ve been all too normal. Somewhere between the chaos of planning a wedding, moving offices, moving apartments, and everything else going on, I’d fallen into a pretty steady normal of going to work, coming home from work, making dinner, watching one of my favorite USA TV shows on Hulu, going to bed, and repeating the whole thing over again the next day. Sure there were lots of doses of instability with all of the above life changes along the way, but all in all I was just getting through the day.
But here’s the thing I really don’t like about normal. Normal is where I get complacent. It’s where I let valuable moments that are gifts from God slip away in day in and day out routine. I also think normal is a good place to let discouragement or hopelessness slip in. Sitting in the normal is easy, but it’s also a little like sitting in slow moving quicksand.
I feel like normal says, “This is the way the world works. This is what’s possible for you (and then insert whatever box of limited possibilities we say are normal here).”
It also says, “This is what everyone else is doing, so this is what you should do too.” or “This is your only choice.”
My least favorite part about normal is it says God is limited by our imaginations. It places restrictions on God’s abilities based on our degrees, our resumes, our titles, our geographic locations, our age, our sex, our physical / mental disabilities, our weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and it pretty much says that He’s only able to do in our life what we or others think is possible.
I loved my husband’s prayer for ten thousand reasons that I won’t list out here. But if you know me, you know I love the abnormal. Ok, I’m not just talking about my not so secret fantasy of running off to Loudon County, Virginia, growing my own food, and living off of the land and off the grid (all while being only a short 25 minute drive to Washington D.C., naturally). I’m talking about embracing the abnormal “set apart” of following Christ.
Believing God’s Word, even when it doesn’t line up with what is normal.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. – Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding. – Proverbs 3:5 (NLT)
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. – Romans 12:2 (NLT)
Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.” – Mark 10:27 (NLT)
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:8-9 (NLT)
I love the abnormal sense of hope and faith that comes from knowing our God’s character and our God’s promises. The abnormal confidence that comes from knowing His Word always accomplishes what it was sent to do.
[What words is He speaking into our lives right now? It’s for a reason!]
It is the same with my word.
I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
and it will prosper everywhere I send it. – Isaiah 55:11 (NLT)
The abnormal joy that can be ours even as we suffer or mourn or wait for something we’ve been waiting a long time for.
The abnormal dreams that God whispers into our hearts when we’re willing to trust Him and when we know He’s able to accomplish more in our lives than we could ever ask or imagine.
[Build a giant ark, anyone?]
The normal world says we should give up, stick to what’s realistic, trust in our own abilities and talents and titles and connections and degrees and bank accounts. It says we should live by our own reason (I’m not talking discernment and gut feeling but general human understanding of what is possible), think first about ourselves, stick to sure things, and be discouraged when things don’t go our way.
This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9 (NLT)
It says things stink when we’re waiting for healing or deliverance from a problem, and we don’t see a clear end in sight. When it feels like we’re suffering more than other people. Normal says we should be bitter or hopeless or admit there’s no way out.
His wife said to him, “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.”
But Job replied, “You talk like a foolish woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” So in all this, Job said nothing wrong. – Job 2:9-10 (NLT)
Abnormal says our faith is strengthened by trials, our hope is made greater in suffering, and even though we wait, we know God will deliver us and bless us in His plan and purpose.
I wait for the Lord, I expectantly wait, and in His word do I hope. – Psalm 130:5 (AMP)
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. – Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. – James 1:2-4 (NLT)
Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. – Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT)
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. – Romans 8:28 (NLT)
I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the Lord.
– Psalm 40:1-3 (NLT)
We can trust that God is bigger than our obstacles. He’s stronger than whatever giants we face. He defeated death so that even when we pass from this world we face the fullness of His love and healing and majesty in eternity. And He’s here, bringing more and more of His kingdom to earth each time we stand in that love, faith, hope, grace, and joy and act it out for others.
You guys, it’s so true that it’s easy to fall into normal, but I think God loves us too much to let us stay there and get comfortable for life.
In the past I’ve waited until He has to shake up my life to open up my eyes to where I’m being complacent, and that’s why I say I’m glad God allowed illness into my life. No, I dont wish illness or hardship on anyone else, and I dont think we all walk through valleys like this for the same reasons. I don’t think we can even understand why we might go through something as hard as that. But in my life it served to shake me out of normal – to show me where I was operating by the world’s standards and not God’s and by my own plans and not by His.
Since I’ve been healed it’s a lot easier to sit in normal again, even when my intentions are to honor Him. It’s easy to reason with “good Christian reason” and make decisions with “good biblical wisdom” while still settling into a normal routine and not passionately asking God what He wants out of each day.
That’s why I want us to passionately embrace abnormal. I’m not saying give up smart routines and time management, but I’m saying
- Being open to Him interrupting our days or even our best laid (even God honoring) plans with His still small voice or His plans that we never saw coming.
- Trusting that when our world is being shaken up (and if your’s is, I will pray for you) that it’s because He has a better thing He’s doing inside of us and a better plan ahead for us.
- And living with an abnormally high sense of hope in His goodness and promises even when we wait (and I have waited!) and can’t see the outcome.
Tomorrow I’m going to try to share some of the ways I’ve waited over the past 30 years (woah, I’m 30 on Saturday!!). A big huge thank you and hugs to everyone who sent emails and sweet messages leading up to and following our wedding. It was a really incredible day. I already miss my family like crazy, and I’m counting down the days until Steph’s wedding, which is only four short weeks away (I’ll tell you that story of “the men who plotted to propose in the same year” soon too!).