NormalSeries: Upside Down. James Dewhurst April 26, 2020
There is an endless number of buttons that have been pushed on the inside of us over the past 5-6 weeks, that has been challenging to say the least. Buttons of fear and worry. Buttons of frustration and restlessness. Buttons of impatience and anger. Buttons of discouragement and depression. But perhaps the greatest button of all is normal!
You can mess with a lot of things in people’s lives, but don’t mess with people’s normal! Don’t touch their routines, their schedules, their preferences, or their M.O.O.!
People don’t want a “New Normal”, they want the same normal they always had!
It goes without saying that most of us would just like to get life back to normal. To just go back to the way things were. Familiarity has a way of convincing us that the way things were was better than what they were. Familiarity can blind us from reality!!!
If we are to be gut-level honest today, I’m not sure “the way it was” was all that great anyway. Before this virus, our world was running at such an unhealthy pace that we had little time for healthy marriages, deep conversations with our children, significant time with friends, family dinners around the table, or a consistent devotional life with Jesus. We were overcommitted, exhausted, stressed out, impatient, self-centered, unfulfilled, and distracted. People were jealous, critical, and depressed. Normal was overrated!
I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I ever want to go back to the way it was!
The reason the past often looks better than the present is that we’re no longer in it!
At this point, after all that we will have experienced by the end of this virus, I’m not sure that our world will ever go back to being exactly the way it was. But, what if where we are headed in the future is an upgrade over where we were in the past?
We might just end up being more blessed in the end than we ever were in the beginning.
The old is not better, it’s just what we know!
(Are you willing to embrace a new normal?)
Someone once said, “The reason most people resist change is because they are more focused on what they are giving up, than on what they are gaining.”
Steven Furtick – “God cannot bring change while we are holding on to comfort!”
To embrace something new, we must accept the end of something old!
The most profound statement on the planet –
If nothing changes, nothing changes!
God is bringing us to a Red Sea moment in our lives! After living enslaved and controlled lives in Egypt for hundreds of years, God sent a few viruses or plagues, 10 in fact, to shake things up, and force the controlling powers to set God’s chosen Israelites free from a toxic situation. God sent the plague of blood, the plague of frogs, the plague of gnats, the plague of flies, the plague of livestock, the plague of boils, the plague of locusts, the plague of darkness, and the plague of the firstborn. It wasn’t until the final plague, when pharaoh lost his firstborn son, that he agreed to release the Israelites from slavery, in:
17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” 18 But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle. (ESV)
5 When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the mind of Pharaoh and his servants was changed toward the people, and they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” 6 So he made ready his chariot and took his army with him, 7 and took six hundred chosen chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. 8 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the people of Israel while the people of Israel were going out defiantly. 9 The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them encamped at the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon. 10 When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the LORD. 11 They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” 13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (ESV)
-The Israelites found themselves in a tough situation. An army was behind them, and a raging sea was in front of them. They were stuck between the past and the future!
-The shocking part was their response to their predicament. The Israelites, for years, had prayed for change, just like many of you have, but when it came, they reverted!
-They were standing between the known and unknown, and they chose familiar!
-Instead of trusting the God who sent 10 plagues to humble the most powerful leader in the world, the Israelites instead wanted to return to Egypt, because they knew it!
-Egypt wasn’t better, it was just what they knew! (Egypt was awful but comfortable!)
After listening to the whining and complaining about a bit, the Lord told Moses in :
14 The peoples have heard; they tremble; pangs have seized the inhabitants of Philistia. 15 Now are the chiefs of Edom dismayed; trembling seizes the leaders of Moab; all the inhabitants of Canaan have melted away. 16 Terror and dread fall upon them; because of the greatness of your arm, they are still as a stone, till your people, O LORD, pass by, till the people pass by whom you have purchased. 17 You will bring them in and plant them on your own mountain, the place, O LORD, which you have made for your abode, the sanctuary, O Lord, which your hands have established. 18 The LORD will reign forever and ever.” 19 For when the horses of Pharaoh with his chariots and his horsemen went into the sea, the LORD brought back the waters of the sea upon them, but the people of Israel walked on dry ground in the midst of the sea. 20 Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing. 21 And Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.” 22 Then Moses made Israel set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. 23 When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah. (ESV)
-Israel found themselves at a Red Sea moment. They couldn’t go backward, but they didn’t know how to move forward. The past was closed but the future hadn’t opened!
-God spoke to Moses and gave him a clear direction – “Tell the Israelites to move on!”
-Egypt is closed! Yesterday is over! Stop doubting God! It’s time to cross over!!!
-The Israelites had a decision to make. They could stand on the banks of the Red Sea and stare, or they could step in, trust God, and leave everything from Egypt behind.
-The Bible tells us that God created a special moment of grace for Israel, He sent a dark cloud to hold back the army of yesterday so they had time to walk into tomorrow!
-If Israel didn’t keep moving forward Egypt was going to take them captive again!
The Red Sea is where we choose to trust God to lead us into an unfamiliar future, or we return to a familiar past!
(It’s where we trade in our normal for a new normal!)
God can do more with your surrender than you can ever do with your control!
What is God asking us to surrender from yesterday that we are trying to control?
> Is it your future?
> Is it your finances?
> Is it your relationships?
> Is it your comfort?
Corey Ten Boom – “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”
When everything seems like it’s falling apart, that’s when God is putting things together!
Story – A father sat down after a long day to unwind, and was reading his favorite Christian magazine. The only problem was his little daughter kept bothering him. She wanted to know what the United States looked like. So, her father tore a page out of his new magazine on which a map of the country was printed. After tearing the map into small pieces, he told her to go into the other room and see if she could put the make-shift puzzle back together, which would show her the whole country. After only a couple of minutes, she walked back and handed him the map perfectly fitted and taped together. Her father was surprised and asked how she was able to finish so quickly. She answered, “It was easy. On the other side of the map was a picture of Jesus. When I put all of Jesus back where He belonged, then our country just came together.”
We think it’s our control that holds it all together, but It’s our faith that does!
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (ESV)
After the Israelites crossed the Red Sea and moved into the desert, they faced another challenge, they needed food! The Israelites again began complaining and referencing what they used to eat in Egypt. But the same God who sent 10 plagues to deliver them, and opened the Red Sea in front of them, started raining down food from heaven for them. Every morning they awoke the forecast was cloudy with a chance of manna!
Israel’s new normal was to start depending on God for food, instead of on Egypt!
To start feeding on the future, instead of eating from the past!
The Bible tells us that after the manna from heaven started showing up, the Israelites had an interesting response:
11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (ESV)
The Israelites had a decision to make with their unknown manna – They could stare at it, they could complain about it, they could reject it, or they could eat it.