What Can We Learn from This?

One year ago, if someone had asked me, “Would you like to see your world, including your church world and church life, completely disrupted so that you would have to search, hope and pray for a ‘new normal’ to life?” I would have laughed at that question. The answer would have been “Absolutely, positively not – I am comfortable with normal.” I also would have thought that was highly unlikely to happen. Wrong and wrong again!

I know I do not need explain what has changed in the past few months to anyone kind enough to take the time to read these comments. Between the disruptions of Covid-19 and the George Floyd/BLM/cancel culture/socialism protests, we live now in an atmosphere of change that is greater than any I can think of in my lifetime. This can’t be called a “perfect storm” because there is nothing “perfect” about it, but it certainly is a storm.

Far more important that the inevitable question, “How did we get here?” is the better question, “Where do we go from here?” To answer that good question, start with a few foundational points. First, God isn’t surprised by these events. Second, God is still very actively working in and through these events. John 5:17. Third, God is the God of interruptions. Just ask Moses about that burning bush, or a young Jewish girl named Mary who became pregnant, Daniel in Babylonian captivity, or any of the countless people of the Bible who lived in stormy times. That means God is at work in the chaos of today, right now!

Would you go back? Would you, if you could, have God rewind the clock and go back to 2019? Of course, we cannot because God made life to be lived moving forward – even if sometimes that forward movement feels like we have tripped and are falling out of control. But we are never out of God’s control. Never! So don’t think about going back to the old “normal.”

Instead, look forward and don’t let a new normal just happen to you – create it! Create your new normal, a better one to the extent possible than the old normal. How? The old “normal” wasn’t perfect – far from it. Furthermore, “normal” could and often did cause us to miss the abnormal opportunities. So, create your new normal and make it an improvement over just “normal.”

Where do you start? Again, start again with fundamental truths.

First, God is worthy. Psalm 96:4. Make Him – and His Word – a part of every morning and every choice throughout the day. Make worshiping weekly (if not daily, at least in your heart) your priority. He made you His priority on the cross. He is with you right now. He is with you always.

Second, live in a humble relationship with others. If you don’t like the callous rudeness and selfishness of our current world (and who does?), at least make the world around you better for your circle of friends and contacts. Reach out to them. Listen to them. Serve them. There are endless possibilities and opportunities to those who are open to share and serve their friends. Write a card, take a meal, share a snack, make a call, just for a few not too radical ideas. But don’t stop there.

Third, expand your circle of friends and contacts. While there are risks and costs, the blessings far outweigh the risks and costs. James wrote of “pure religion” in James 1:27. James call for true religion was similar to the prophet Isaiah’s call for true fasting as he complained of some insincere religious practices of the day. See Isaiah 58. Idlewild has a broad variety of opportunities for everyone of every age and ability to serve and expand their circle.

Fourth, be generous to the God who gave His life for you. Jesus could have backed out of going to the cross. He didn’t, because of love. Respect that reality and reciprocate. Show your gratitude and your heart by being generous with the time, the treasures and the talents God has given to you.

Finally, practice tikkun olam, a Jewish concept arising in written law, the Mishna. Tikkun olam often was used to refer to acts of kindness. The Hebrew phrase literally translates to “repair the world”—not destroying, revolutionizing or reinventing it, just putting the world back together one step at a time. But be sure the “new” world gets put back with an eye on its Creator.

There can be a better “normal” and a better world for the future. If you need ideas on how to do any of these, call us at (813) 264-8713, The Idlewild Foundation.

About the Author

John Campbell has retired from a 40-year legal practice as a trial attorney in Tampa. He has served in multiple volunteer roles at Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Florida, where he met Jesus. He began serving as the Executive Director of the Idlewild Foundation in 2016. He has been married to the love of his life, Mona Puckett Campbell, since 1972.