January 24, 2013
What is Normal?
Do not be surprised at the painful things you are now suffering. These things are testing your faith (1 Peter 4:12-13, ICB).
Friend to Friend
I pray that your New Year is off to a great start. The holidays are wonderful but I am always ready for them to be over so life can get back to normal. Hmmm…that word “normal” can definitely mean different things to different people. I have to admit that “normal” is not a word people commonly use to describe my life or me. I have heard more than one person say, “Mary, you are not a normal pastor’s wife!” I smile and thank them for the compliment. Ignorance can definitely be bliss. Several of my closest friends are convinced that I could make millions by doing my own television reality show. “Nobody could make this stuff up!” they proclaim.
Author and speaker, Patsy Clairmont says that "normal" is just a setting on the dryer. I am inclined to agree with her. At birth, the world silently hands us a list of do's and don'ts that we must follow in order to "fit in" and qualify as “normal.” I believe God's definition of normal is quite different from the one offered by the world.
As I look back over the lives of those who made the biggest difference in the early Kingdom days, they were anything but normal. A bag of mixed nuts is more like it – quirky men and broken women from all walks of life who were radical in their devotion to God - to the point of placing their lives on the line every day for the cause of Christ. They were normal in that they celebrated their "sameness" with the pagans who were shunned by religious zealots but stubbornly loved by the Father. Yet, they were profoundly abnormal in the love they showed and the depth of their commitment to God and to His cause.
As I was putting the Christmas decorations away for another year, I ended up in the study where we have a collection of gifts and souvenirs from the various countries where Dan and I have visited on mission trips. Each one brought back memories of precious people we met – people who are persecuted each day because of their faith in Jesus Christ. As far as material possessions are concerned, these saints have very little, but when it comes to joy, contentment and peace … they are filthy rich! These men and women have chosen to follow Christ in a radical obedience that may very well cost them their lives one day. Is that normal? It should be.
When an ordinary woman meets an extraordinary God, normal life takes on a whole new meaning. Knowing God changes everything. We cannot encounter the living God and be the same. A personal relationship with Him produces a holy discontent with the status quo and compels us to live in such a way that miracles are a daily occurrence.
Miracles come in all shapes and sizes. A woman chooses not to have an abortion. A pastor in Peru lives another day even though his name is first on a list of Christian pastors to be executed. An alcoholic makes it through one more day without a drink. An underground church in Cuba meets to worship God. A husband who has been unemployed for over a year gets a job. Bibles are smuggled into Mexico and distributed to remote mountain tribes. A couple seeks counseling instead of a divorce. Cancer goes into remission. The sun rises and sets. We have food to eat and water to drink. A life is changed in response to what God has done in ours.
People are desperately looking for ordinary women like you and me whose lives have been changed by an extraordinary God – the One who is calling us to be “God with skin on” to those who don't even believe He exists. I want to love every excuse and doubt right out of their minds. I want them to see a power in me that they cannot explain in human terms and a message that shouts of God’s mercy and forgiveness. I want to be hungry and thirsty for God as never before. I want my normal life to be abnormally extraordinary because God is alive and well and at work in and around me.
How about you? Are you ready to step out in faith? Are you willing to live a normal life filled with people and circumstances that can only be explained by the extraordinary power and presence of God? Let’s do it, girlfriend!
Father, I am so tired of playing it safe, of bowing to the wrong crowd and listening to the wrong voices. I lay down my pride and surrender to You and Your plan for my life in this New Year. Stretch my faith. Give me Your eyes to see those in need. Fill me with Your power and strength so that others will be drawn to You.
In Jesus’ name,
Now It’s Your Turn
In what way have you played it safe when it comes to your faith in God?
Are you willing to be a radical follower of Jesus Christ – no matter the cost?
Read Proverbs 3:5-6. How do these verses apply to an abnormal walk with God?
What first step do you need to take in order to walk by faith - not by sight?
More from the Girlfriends
The first time my husband, Dan and I visited Cuba, my eyes were opened to a whole new level of faith I had never seen or experienced. I watched believers live under the scrutiny of a godless government. Pastors and their families lived in poverty because they chose to worship God alone. Yet, there was no fear – only faith. They celebrated what they had instead of complaining about what they didn’t have. We were humbled to be in their presence and challenged to live as they lived – in radical obedience to God. That same challenge is before us all today. Are you ready?
A daily time alone with God in prayer and Bible study will strengthen you to face whatever life throws at you. Check out my weekly online Bible study, Light for the Journey, for practical ways to tap into the power of God’s Word. The first study of 2013 is Power Up With Proverbs and begins January 14.
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Originally published Thursday, 24 January 2013.