Many years ago there was a movie titled ‘Leaving Normal’. I remember the premise was life changes in advancing years and the name of the town the actress lived in was ‘Normal’. Sort of play on words. Last week I left ‘Normal’. I exchanged a 3:45 am alarm for no alarm at all. I exchanged $100 in fuel burning through my car for $20. I exchanged sitting at my desk all day for running from room to room and up and downstairs all day – cleaning and organizing a house that had for months looked like the remains of a demolition project. Oh wait! It was the remains of a construction project. How could I so easily make those exchanges? I left normal. I took a week off work to live outside of normal so I could refresh, renew, and return to a new normal. Back to work this morning . . . but first, this word from our sponsor, the God who created normal.
I put a lot of blame on the construction project that really wasn’t 100% at fault. Romans 7 has been convicting me of that lately. I’m probably taking it all out of context when I compare the clutter and turmoil overwhelming my physical life with the clutter and turmoil in my spiritual life. I don’t know about you, but I can tolerate clutter and chaos more than many people I know, but at the tipping point when tolerance is traded for turmoil, I fall completely into confusion, not knowing how to break out of the pattern. While it might not be recognizable on the outside, my old sinful nature is clamoring to break out. How do I know where that comes from? It’s pretty much spelled out in Romans 7:18 “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” Nothing good ever comes from allowing turmoil to continue. I was blessed by being able to take vacation to get back on track and bring order back to my physical life. Some days I felt like if someone touched me I would crack in million pieces because everything hurt from all the work.
While I was cleaning and organizing my physical house I was cleaning and organizing my spiritual house too. I know that is was only the enabling I received through God working alongside me that gave me the strength and the attitude to keep going. After all – wasn’t this supposed to be vacation? But the joy of the Lord, and the vision of getting back to a pleasing normal, kept me on the right path. Romans 7:25 “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.” Deliverance! God and I had some good conversations last week. One of the best factors in working through the clutter of life is recognizing that it’s not that much different than the clutter in our spiritual life. We need to be sorting out what to keep and what to get rid of on a basis consistent with what is pleasing to God. Psalm 18:16 in the Message translations says it just about right. “But me he caught—reached all the way from sky to sea; he pulled me out Of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos, the void in which I was drowning.” Around the passage in Psalm 51:10 describes what my prayer is now in the new normal as I go back to work and that schedule. “God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life. Don’t throw me out with the trash, or fail to breathe holiness in me. Bring me back from gray exile, put a fresh wind in my sails!”
I recently read this passage that I also want to share today from 2 Peter 1:3-4 “Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received! We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you—your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a corrupted world.” What I want is to turn my back on a corrupted world and live the life God created me to live. It’s not in chaos or turmoil. It’s a life of order and inner peace.