When Back to Normal Leaves You Lacking

100_7583Sitting here today, I am aware that normal has once again returned after a wonderful season of celebration, family gatherings and constant activity. Just a week or so back, the house was full with children and grandchildren for the celebration of the arrival of the Christ-child. The byproduct of the season is wonderful times of family gatherings and meaningful connections with those we call family and love dearly. Our family Christmas was wonderful. Both of our children came home with their spouses and children and spent the night. It is not often that we all sleep in the same house. I laugh thinking back at how excited I was as a child on the night before Christmas. I saw that same excitement in the eyes of our grandchildren, Harper and Landon. Lincoln is only seven months old but he too will soon look with that same excitement.
For me, that child-like excitement visited my heart again as I experienced Christmas with them. Harper woke at 3:25 AM so ready for the day. I heard her 3 year old little voice calling out in the darkness. “Papa…Papa.” I raced to her bedside to try to quieten her at such an hour. I said, “Harper, it’s not time to get up yet.” But there was no changing her mind. She was so excited. Landon was up by 4:30 AM. At 5:00 in the morning, Papa and Harper and Landon sat at the kitchen table with Christmas light glowing, making and decorating chocolate Christmas trees for every member of the family. Oh the memories that were forged in a grandfather’s mind.
But today is quite different. The lights have been put away for a year and there is a silence that has returned to our grandchildren room. Normal is back. Temperatures outside are below 0 and snow covers the ground. The pomp and pageantry of the season is over. Now for me, I am incredibly blessed by normal. Angela and I are so thankful for the place that God has grown us to in faith, family, marriage and our normal is a blessed time and place. But for many, January is a time when melancholy sets in and normal leads to the place of discouragement and even depression.
So today I want to address some ways that our lives can find meaning in normal times. If you are struggling in the aftermath of the party, then take some time and apply some of these principles.
If you are down and discouraged, overwhelmed with normal, or just looking for a fresh new start, then choose a couple of things from the list below and take an active approach to fighting the challenges of this season.
1) Go vertical- Often people are exhilarated by intimate connections and relationships. Realize that even when your loved ones have gone, you can have that need and desire met by spending time with God every day. The prophet, Jeremiah reminds us that if we seek Him, we will find Him, if we seek Him with all of our heart (Jeremiah 29:13). The active pursuit of God fulfills the heart of the seeker. I suggest that people read A.W. Tozer’s two volume set entitled The Attributes of God every year to simply remind them of the incredible majesty and glory of the One we are blessed to serve.
2) Invest intentionally in prayer- It seems in our fast-paced world, we seldom take enough time in the quiet disciplines of faith. Spend both quality and a good quantity of time in prayer. There are many great studies on how to pray. Right now I am going through the classic written by Andrew Murray entitled With Christ in the School of Prayer. Murray was born in the 1820’s and wrote more than 240 books. He was a man invested in prayer. His investment led to a deep faith.
3) Become active in a community where faith sets the agenda- Many associate with a church that entertains them. But I suggest that you seek out a church family that has a vision to both disciple and to reach the world for Christ. If you are in that kind of church today, then ramp up your active participation in the study of God’s Word with others who challenge you and deepen your relationship with others who are in a like-minded pursuit of God. We live in a very isolated time. Pray for godly friendships and invest in your church family. It will warm your heart as you change your normal to include others. Remember that we won’t always agree on every aspect of living out the Christian faith. Scripture says that “iron sharpens iron.” Let us offer grace to one another and allow differences of opinion to propel us to a greater understanding of truth. Build bridges towards others rather than walls designed to isolate you from brothers and sisters in Christ.
4) Attach selfishness with great passion- If we are honest, we all have a problem with selfishness. We live in a world that caters to what we want. In order to get over yourself, invest your time in others who are in need. Certainly that includes those who are down and out…the hungry, the sick and broken and those who have physical needs. But don’t forget that the “least of these” come in many different fashions. The person with the greatest need is the person who does not know Christ. What can you do to minister effectively so that others are drawn to Christ? Pray about a particular ministry and move outside of your own little world and serve God by loving man.
Yes, the party is over. But with an appropriate attitude adjustment, 2015 can be a great year for the Kingdom! Invest, grow and experience God’s blessing!
~ Pastor Mark