Death is a subject many people don’t like to discuss. It’s eerie. It’s scary. It’s just painful.
Right now, it’s all too real.
We’re staring death in the face, and death is staring back. Then, death is going a step further by robbing us of people we love. People who were healthy and flourishing just weeks ago.
While human frailty is becoming more and more apparent, so is the frailty of human institutions. Death isn’t playing favorites during this pandemic. We’re all experiencing it in one form or another.
For some, it’s the death of a job, and with that, the death of a consistent income. For others, it’s the death of community, and with that, the death of belonging.
For all, it’s the death of normal.
It’s a truly incomprehensible reality in a culture addicted to productivity and routine. I’ve started losing track of the days. I can’t differentiate today from yesterday, or tomorrow from today. My internal clock has completely reset itself. The days are going slowly while the weeks are speeding by. It’s pretty easy to feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. Zoom this, FaceTime that, Marco Polo the other thing.
It’s simultaneously nothing and everything – the most deafening silence many of us have ever experienced.
For many, the death of normal equals the death of purpose. That can quickly turn into the death of hope as uncertainty closes in.
But death is the only true prerequisite for healthy, pure and true life.
Call me crazy, but such a wide-scale, all-encompassing death of our entire known reality poses the perfect opportunity for the richest of life to spring forth.
I believe this because it’s happened before.
All that was normal died a brutal, God-forsaken death when Iēsus Nazarēnus, Rēx Iūdaeōrum – Jesus Christ, King of the Jews – spread his arms upon a cross. When He breathed His last and gave up His Spirit, he declared the death of normal.
Tetelestai. It is finished.
The Old Covenant – and with it, the regulations, traditions and rituals of the Jewish people – ceased at that moment to order reality. Jesus had ushered in a New Covenant with His blood, one governed by freedom.
When Jesus began his ministry at 30 years of age, everyone could tell something was up. Something was happening. This wasn’t normal. His words hit different. They had power. They had authority. And He actually practiced what He preached. There was a fullness and a wholeness to His being that had never been seen before.
Many know the basic message of Good Friday and Easter. Jesus Christ died for our sins and was raised to life so that we could have eternal life with God in Heaven.
But we don’t have to wait on physical death to experience the very wholeness and fullness that Jesus first showed us. That freedom is available to be experienced in the here and now. Heaven can meet earth right where you are. Even while you’re locked in your home with nowhere to go.
Especially while you’re locked inside your home with nowhere to go.
When normal died on Good Friday, power was released from Heaven. The curtain was torn in two and man had unbridled access to God for the first time.
Much the same, I believe power is being released in the death of our normal. I believe many will experience the greatest freedom they have ever known while imprisoned in quarantine. I’ve been tasting it myself. Deep times with the Lord, a revived and refreshed spirit, a restored soul.
And it doesn’t appear I’m the only one to be experiencing true life in the death of my reality.
As I’ve looked around the last few weeks I’ve seen roses growing through the concrete of this hellish, quarantined reality. Not just one here and there, but full rose bushes blooming forth in places both high and low. Power is going out, and it’s restoring a weary world thirsty for life and thirsty for answers.
Teenagers unabashedly worshipping God for an audience of neighbors. Hospitals wrapped in choruses of songs and prayer. Christian leaders asked to pray for healing and deliverance on national news. NBA players hosting worship and prayer nights on social media. People lifting their voices in worship in public for the first time.
I could go on and on and on. What I’m seeing is the church being the church.
And I’m just crazy enough to believe that revival will follow. A sweeping move of God that will enrapture our nation and the entire world.
Not as a result of our routines, our productivity, our normal… but as the result of authentic faith in a God that heals, that fights for us, that knows what’s coming.
So the way I see it, the death of normal is a good thing. I’m grieved with the physical death that accompanies it, but all the more encouraged by the true life that will follow.
The death of normal is the beginning of life not as we know it, but as we should.
God didn’t intend for us to experience such an authentic manifestation of His presence only during difficult times, and certainly not only during worldwide crises. Because the curtain was torn and because Jesus robbed death of its power when He was resurrected to life on Easter, we have the freedom to abide in the wonder of His presence at all times.
That goes for now when we’re locked in our homes, and later when we’re free to eat and drink and be merry again.
For those who already know the freedom of Jesus and have often forgotten to live in it, I’m right there with you. But now is the time. The world needs us and the Good News we bear. Revival is coming. Will you sit on the sidelines longing for a return to normal, or will you rise up and be a participant in the release of divine power into a weary world?
I’ll put it how I heard a prominent pastor say it earlier today: if you held the cure to coronavirus, would you keep it to yourself with the world longing for the very thing you possessed, or would you unleash it with a reckless abandon?
For those who are searching for answers in a time full of very valid questions and haven’t experienced this freedom I’m speaking of, all I want is for you to know that Jesus already died the death that surrounds you right now so that your fear and shame and guilt and grief would die right along with it.
He died and was raised to life so that you wouldn’t have to depend on a sense of normalcy in order to experience a sense of worth.
If you have questions, please ask me. No judgment, no shame, no need to present yourself in any certain way. Wherever you are, no matter how complicated your experience with church and faith and Christianity and beyond – this freedom I’m speaking of is readily available to you, and I want you to experience it.
God didn’t intend for normal to be your god. God intended for God to be your God.
Normal is dying. God already did.
“Yet after three days…”
“Call me crazy, but such a wide-scale, all-encompassing death of our entire known reality poses the perfect opportunity for the richest of life to spring forth.” Love it.
Thanks, Ben. Appreciate you reading.
What a poignant way of telling me to get off my butt and bring in the sheeves ! AMEN NATE !