New Normal

I’m reading a NYTimes story about new research findings into metabolic change. It ends with this sentence:

“There is a time point when things are no longer as they used to be.”

Now is that time.

The world is nearly two years into a global pandemic. I’ve been working from home for 17 months, wearing a mask on indoor errands and repeatedly sanitizing my hands after getting a Covid-19 vaccine.

Meanwhile non-compliant, delusional fellow citizens resist mask mandates and public health advice and demand to know:

When are things going to “get back to normal”? My answer: Time moves forward. Never back.

Remember the 9-11 terrorist attacks: planes flying into the World Trade Center? That was nearly 20 years ago. Airport travel has never been the same. No more arriving at an airport a half hour before take-off. No more accompanying someone to their gate to chat while they wait to board. No more bringing Starbucks through security.

Normal is transient.

  • Most rental apartments once came with standard appliances: a stove, a frig. We just moved our son into an apartment where the “stove” is a two-burner cooktop with no oven. Normal for him. He doesn’t bake.
  • Family life used to include marriage and children. Today’s family is more often “partners” building lives together with no legal relationship and a “child” pet.
  • I grew up eating meals cooked from scratch with ingredients from a garden, a butcher, a grocer. It’s now routine to home-cook a pre-packaged dinner shipped from a meal kit delivery service.

Only God never changes. Yet, people who claim to trust God increasingly urge others to ignore a changed reality and to move back to a comfortable, familiar past that no longer exists.

I am reminded of the Israelites, liberated from the slavery of Egypt, pining for the familiar leeks and onions. God was not leading them back there. He was still God, and they were still His people. But their new normal was 40 years through the desert, God’s chosen route to a promised land. For many, their disobedience would cost them their lives.

My fellow Christ followers, times have changed, are changing, will continue to change. With waves of COVID-19 infections and deaths, defiance of public health safety measures and an American census that documents a shrinking white population, the normal we knew is over and done.

There’s a time and season for all things, says the preacher of Ecclesiastes. Accept that. It is reality.

I see it in a field along my regular run route. In early spring, it was plowed and planted. A stand of corn emerged. The crop is harvested and only stalk stubs remain.

Embrace the new normal, difficult though it may be, and trust the God who is sovereign. He changes the times and the seasons.

And if you still find this new norm disagreeable, consider the admonition of Scripture:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except by God’s appointment, and the authorities that exist have been instituted by God. So the person who resists such authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will incur judgment (for rulers cause no fear for good conduct but for bad). Do you desire not to fear authority? Do good and you will receive its commendation, for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be in fear, for it does not bear the sword in vain. It is God’s servant to administer retribution on the wrongdoer.

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