Two years ago a newscaster coined the phrase "This is the new normal" while reporting on events following 9/11. Defining just what that is has since become a part of our culture as we ponder the future.
These days it's tough to know what "normal" should be. As it has evolved, the new normal presents a picture of uncertainty and can lead us to a sort of "what next?" fearful attitude about our lives.
One way to make peace with our fear of the future is to live in the present. What we know about the future will be based on how we handle the present and bring into our lives the strengthening experiences of the past.
I find inspiration in the Bible's story of David. David was a simple shepherd. His position was not flashy. In fact, since he worked alone, he could easily have done just the minimum, and no one would have noticed. But David was dedicated to his responsibility to his flock. His commitment to caring for the sheep was an indication of how a leader might take charge of a great nation.
With dedication to his duties as a shepherd, David challenged a lion and a bear when they attempted to take a sheep from the flock for a meal. Risking his own life, he met both situations with bravery, and both times he was able to free the sheep.
Later, when David volunteered to confront Goliath, he was confident that everything would turn out all right. David wasn't afraid of the outcome of the battle with Goliath, however insurmountable the obstacle seemed to be, and how ominous things looked. David had proved in his own life that God was the source of his strength and the reason why he could meet every challenge with confidence.
We can conquer underlying anxiety that longs to know the outcome of each battle in our encounters with the world. The temptation to find a secret way to see into the future so we would know the outcome is like wanting to start at the end the of a book before reading the book.
Someone once told me to view change as I would look at the turning of a kaleidoscope. First you see a perfect picture, faceted with all the colors and patterns found inside the kaleidoscope. As you turn it, the picture looks as if it's breaking up, but that isn't the destruction of your image of multi-faceted beauty. In fact, a new image is appearing, which is equally fascinating and lovely.
Change isn't a bad thing when we know that the emerging image is still made up of the same components that form the constants in our lives. God is the greatest constant we can embrace, and His love and care for all never leave us, never break down, and are not unpredictable. Maybe the new normal will call on us to place greater reliance on spiritual things.
Just as David ran to meet Goliath, I want to embrace the new normal as a challenge to find out more about how to turn to God with a faith that is deeper than wishful thinking. Within the kaleidoscope of my life, I realize how many times a change, that at first looked like a breaking up, was really only a coming together of something even better. I want to run to meet the Goliath of fear and doubt with a greater appreciation and understanding of God's nature to care for me.
God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies. Never ask for to-morrow: it is enough that divine Love is an ever-present help; and if you wait, never doubting, you will have all you need every moment. What a glorious inheritance is given to us through the understanding of omnipresent Love! More we cannot ask: more we do not want: more we cannot have. This sweet assurance is the 'Peace, be still' to all human fears, to suffering of every sort.
Mary Baker Eddy
(founder of the Monitor)
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