The New Normal

Photo woman on the beach with a flower crown

It only takes one thumb scroll through Facebook to indicate quarantine’s left most of restless, scared and at the very least, bored to the brink of insanity. For the love, I almost scrapbooked the other day. Almost.  We’re all searching for projects and purpose to consume our energy and time, and we’re all feeling that weird sense of angst associated with involuntary change, and the unknown.
But as uncomfortable as it is, I feel God’s using this eerie time to “shake” us a bit. To bring to light some behaviors, thought patterns and even beliefs he wants to change, for our own good.

After an abnormally powerful and caffeine infused prayer time the other day, I began to think, what if our project for the remainder of this time would be to work on ourselves? More specifically, to find our deeper identity in Christ? Or to find him for the first time, for those whom haven’t. Because the truth is, it’s only through finding God that we become our best, happiest and truest self-the spirit he made us to be before disbelief, heartache, loss, disappointments, distractions, self-absorption, and eventual independence from Him set in.

I feel one of the greatest misconceptions about pursuing God, is that we’ll have to sacrifice part of ourselves: our personalities, habits, pleasures, dreams and even our intellect, if we really get serious and follow him. Probably one of the smoothest lies perpetuated since the beginning of time to not only separate us from God, but hinder our freedom. And whether we acknowledge it or not, we have skewed patterns of thinking, wounds and behaviors we’ll never be aware of, let alone fix, without God’s help. And so many dormant dreams, adventures and passions we’ll never discover until we do.

I had no desire and thought I had no need for God until going through a time of brokenness and aloneness in early twenties, when I finally came back to Him. It’s only through Him that I’ve been able to gain freedom from so many things- the burden of self, freedom from living to please others, healing from childhood losses and so much more. And beyond that, despite a non-stop cycle of mistakes, God’s brought literally every dream to fruition-so much more than I deserve.

But even for Christians that’ve believed and experienced a level of intimacy and adventure with God, it’s easy to lose our hunger for Him and our zest for living out our calling. We get a bit older, acquire more comforts and autocracy, and of course there’s the over-abundance work and family responsibilities. The pursuit of God gradually sinks down the totem pole of life priorities and takes tepid residence in our hearts.

One of my greatest fears is regret. I dread getting to heaven (though still miraculous will!) not because I fear hearing my litany of screw ups (ohhhhh the list) but realizing I could’ve done and become so much more, if I had just stayed closer to Him and more commitment to my life’s real callings. I’ve always had a fierce “make the most of every moment” mentality that I credited to losing my dad when I was twelve, but over the course of my life it’s almost astounding how diluted my passion and focuses have become when letting God take second or third place in my life.

Aside from removing so many distractions and duties from our lives, this pandemic also has a way of reminding us of the fragility of life. We’re not guaranteed endless time to finally kick that habit or dependency, or be a better spouse. Or stop making excuses and just do the hard thing we’ve been praying about for a decade now. Bering quarantined has made me realize without church and youth group, I was contributing almost nothing to my kid’s spiritual life, aside from the short devotions I’d read over dinner and prayers at bedtime. I’ve told myself I’d start doing Bible studies with my kids for years now, but “never had the time.” We’ve no doubt been jolted out of auto-pilot, but in a matter of months-maybe even weeks- we’ll choice how we operate in the realm of regular life.

God never designates evil or heartache, but he does use its consequences- often pain, aloneness, confusion or fear- to help us find and experience Him. His provision, comfort, unwavering faithfulness and joy we can feel in the midst of darkness. But God speaks in a whisper. To “be still, and know that I am God,” doesn’t indicate inactivity. It’s a proactive posturing ourselves toward God with an expectancy of experiencing Him and all His qualities: Peace. Wisdom. Boldness over fear. Correction made in love. And on, and on. But we have to be willing to listen.

Jesus came to bring abundant life, which means “abounding fullness of joy and strength for mind, body, and soul.” He wants to he pandemic to end. He created us to be together. He loves family and community and he wants us to be happy.  But not at the risk of not knowing Him. Because happiness and worldly comforts are fleeting, and they’ll never be enough. Leaving us to ourselves would be like watching our kids open their stockings on Christmas, and never seeing the gifts under the tree- if only they’d kept looking.

For the remainder of these strange times, consider spending more time with Him, and create space for movement in our lives. If you don’t know Him, why not try? People who claim to know Him are either highly functional sociopaths, or He’s real. And if he’s real, he’s for everyone, not just a brand of faith-infused elites in need of a life crutch. Whether we ever accept it or not, he has a detailed, amazing plan for every life that’s he’s thought about since the beginning of time. And what’s amazing is it’s never too late to return to, or begin our walk with Him. Start out with a simple prayer: “God if you’re real, let me know in a way I can believe.” Start reading the Bible online if you don’t have one … The book of John is a great start. Erase every belief you might’ve formed about God and “religion” and take a walk in the woods with Him….starting with a clean slate. I’ve yet to meet a soul who sincerely searched for God, and was disappointed.

Life is short. And it’ll soon return to normal. I hope we never do.


Jessica Kastner is an award-winning journalist, author and contributor to the Christian Broadcasting Network, Huff Post, God TV, Beliefnet, Crosswalk and many more. When she's not burning dinner, daydreaming about the beach, she can be found on the trampoline with her copious amount of children, wishing she'd ordered the turbo shot.

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