Last evening I experienced something as close to normalcy as possible in today’s crazy zany mixed up world. Actually most of the whole day was pretty normal, in terms of my activities. After I got up, had some morning coffee, ate a breakfast burrito, and drank some apple juice, I began my prep work for smoking meat. This past week one of the items still available at my local food store was Baby Back Pork Ribs, and, they were on sale! Yippee Skippee! I bought four full racks, and spent less than the cost of two large pizzas. Can I get a “hallelujah!”? But I digress.
Anywhoo, after all my prep work was done, it was time for “On-line” church, so my wife and I worshipped “remotely” from the safety of our living room. The time we spent singing and listening to God’s Word was delightful, and while not “NORMAL” in the sense of going to a church building, we still felt connected to those like us who were making the most of our time, and doing the right thing! Singing praises to the LORD Jesus.
When worship was over I put the ribs on the smoker, here’s a pic of the ribs before the goodness of the smoke cooks them into a delicacy!
After five hours in the smoker, all wrapped in foil, and sitting in warming mode in the oven, it was time for me to clean up, and prepare for the “normal” part of the evening. The rule of thumb in our area of Texas is to not congregate with more than 10 people, and use common sense about knowing the risks, and taking precautions. That said, I cooked these ribs for a group of my wife and I, and two other couple friends. We arrived around 5pm, had a wonderful time of loving each other, sharing good food, playing card games, and discussing spiritual matters and current events. That is about as “normal” as it can get, and still be in “safe” mode.
We joked, we laughed, and generally just tried to appear normal for a few hours. We all left around 9pm to our respective homes, refreshed by the fellowship of human relationships that are meaningful and loving. We ate way too much, and everybody got a take home bag of ribs for leftovers. How fun huh?
Now, on Monday morning, I’m back to reality, and trying to get a handle on how to deal with the ongoing issues of how to just be “normal.” And it is quite challenging. One thing I did today was return to our local food store for this week’s supplies of nourishment. During the first few minutes of walking around the store, I became aware of a sense of “blah” from the people I passed. So, I decided to just try a “social” experiment. I didn’t try to get anyone to engage in conversation, I simply smiled at them, and tried to get them to smile back. No, not one of those creepy “who is this crazy man” smiles. You know, the kind where people just genuinely know you care kind of smiles. Some smiled back, some didn’t, it was maybe 50-50 on the whole.
But, is this the new “normalcy” where people are shopping for food and can’t even smile? I wondered how many of them were actual Christ-followers and I wondered how many were far from God in their own chaotic world without hope or promise. I wondered if my smile had made a difference. What else could I do?
I would never try to minimize the importance of following local and national government instructions for social distancing and self-quarantine when there is infection. That said, if you have no symptoms, maybe when you do get out in the public eye, you might try just smiling.
Also, it might help us all to listen as close to God’s word as we do the NEWS media which seems more pervasive and invasive than ever. Last week I wrote about being still and knowing that God is in control. That’s in Psalm 46:10. Maybe some of you went ahead and read the whole substance of Psalm chapter 46. But if you didn’t, maybe it would help give some context about being still and understanding God is in Control. It begins this way…
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.
I don’t think it’s possible to feel normal again yet, and maybe we won’t ever return to the same place we were before COVID-19. But here’s the thing, would that be such a bad thing? Hasn’t this helped many people reconnect with family? Hasn’t it helped many people question the value of some of their previous activities? Hasn’t this situation turned many people’s minds toward spiritual values, and looking to God for answers? Yes, Yes, yes, and YES!
So what is normalcy? Who gets to define that? No one yet. But God is still in control. Even in this very abnormal confusing frustrating time. Trust Him. Obey Him. Declare and proclaim Him LORD of ALL. Why can’t this be the new “normal?”