A special message from FPC Pastor Parker Johnson
submitted by Pastor Parker Johnson, First Presbyterian Church (PCA):
What is “normal?” We have been talking a lot lately as a culture and society about desiring to get back to “normal.” Most of the time, we use that phrase in a helpful manner: getting back to work, school, and worship, etc. However, have you ever stopped to consider that we probably ought not to return completely to what was normal PC (pre-coronavirus)? Consider this quote from a recent article from the Navigators ministry:
“We’ve been hearing it quite a bit, the language of ‘when everything gets back to normal again …’ I don’t believe God wants us to return to where we previously were. It would be uncharacteristic of God to not use a major, global disorienting disruption to get our attention, and to reorient our affections.”
All the word “normal” means is something that conforms to a standard, rule, or practice. The reason why we might describe our lives pre-coronavirus as such is that they probably more or less looked just like those of our culture around us. This begs the question, then, was everything about life a couple of months ago helpful? Godly? Good? Or, should we use this season to better examine our “normal” routines and priorities to see if they need to be adjusted to fit God’s standard a little better?
As a father of two young children, I don’t always notice how much they are growing simply because I am around them every day. Others who haven’t seen Thomas and Lizzie in a while, however, will often note how much they have shot up. Our lives can often be the same way; we don’t always see our spiritual drift or the slow inclusion of unhelpful elements into our lives because we are so close to them. This is where Proverbs 18:17 comes in handy:
The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.
This season offers us the opportunity to utilize that second line – to re-examine our lives, motives, priorities, and desires. It all seemed “right” before: the frantic pace of sports and extra-curricular activities, the mounting pile of consumer debt, the more and more infrequent time in the Word, the coasting in our marriages, the increasing distance from our children and parents, and the mounting toleration of besetting sins. But now, seen in a different light, we can see more clearly as many of these things have been involuntarily stripped from us.
So, what does “normal” look like? The word makes no sense without a standard to measure it against. For the Christian, the only standard of faith and practice is God’s Word. That said, to live a “normal” life is to love God and to love neighbor in whatever circumstances God’s providence places us. Think about the flow of history; how many of our brothers and sisters in Christ have lived what we would otherwise call a “normal” life? The Depression generation? How about all those who lost brothers and fathers in the two great World Wars of the 20th Century? Certainly, things were tumultuous in those days, but godly men and women continued to love God and neighbor as they sought to conform their lives and hearts to the norm of God’s Word. Let us follow suit whatever these coming months hold.
-Pastor Parker Johnson, First Presbyterian Church (PCA)