Yesterday, I shared how the COVID Quarantine has given me, and perhaps you, time to reflect on and pursue a deeper relationship with God. Today, I am asking what God might wish for as a new spiritual normal for us.
The Old–Afraid and Confused
Twelve men and some women were living behind locked doors. They were afraid– afraid of death. Their world had been rocked. Everything had changed suddenly. Dreams dashed, future dark with doubt and uncertainty.
The last three years had been like a dream. Sure, they were often confused and slow. They slept when they should have prayed. They feared instead of having faith. They questioned when they could have dug deeper.
But they had their Messiah. They saw the miracles. No one had ever done what He did. They heard His words. No one had ever taught like He taught. He was in control. They could slack a little.
Now He was dead. And their had hopes died with Him.
So here they were, behind locked and barred doors, afraid. Then, everything changed.
“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.”John 20:19-20 NIV
Waking to the New
Jesus’ appearance to His disciples was the beginning of an amazing awakening. I believe it is an awakening God can give each of us if we wish, ask, and pursue.
Over the next forty days, Jesus patiently explained what they had missed. He graciously forgave their failures. With unstoppable purpose, He prepared them for their future mission.
During this time, they remembered what they had forgotten. They understood what they hadn’t grasped. They became strong where they’d been weak. Like a plant in warm sunshine, their faith grew quickly.
Then Jesus left, ascending to heaven to carry on His work there. But not before promising to send a Helper like Himself, the Holy Spirit, to be with them always.
“On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.'”Acts 1:4 NIV
They did not wait idly. They worshiped the Lord they had just been with. They lamented their shortcomings and sins and resolved, by God’s grace to change. They put away differences and became unified. They grabbed hold of the promises Jesus had made, stretching their hand of faith higher and higher. They prayed intensely for a fitness to share the message of salvation. Then, the answer came.
When the Holy Spirit was poured out, it was like Heaven’s floodgates opened, as if a floodlight was shined into their minds. Everything was clear as noon. Unbelief was swept away. They spoke powerfully about Jesus and their faith in Him.
The book of Acts emerges like a Phoenix out of the ashes of these disciples’ former lives. Out of confusion, confidence. Out of fear, faith. Out of dim wits, bright clarity.
In the power of God’s spirit they proclaimed the resurrection of Christ, healed the sick, raised the dead, traveled to the ends of the earth. The “Sun of righteousness” had truly “arisen with healing in His wings” (Malachi 4:2).
But the greatest miracle was their own spiritual resurrection. Christianity is a religion of power–God’s power to change our hearts, make us new, help us overcome what holds us back. Read these verses:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26 NIV
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36 NIV
“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” Romans 8:11 NIV
In the last verse, Paul likens our personal spiritual resurrection–the awakening of our mind and heart to the realities of God–to the resurrection of Christ.
In other words, God is willing to exert the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, to raise us from the dead, spiritually speaking, and give us new life. He is not talking only about the resurrection at Christ’s coming, but our spiritual resurrection now.
This was the spiritual awakening the disciples experienced from Resurrection to Pentecost. And God is just as willing to give it to us as to them.
There is no need for us to live in the shadow-lands of faith. We can ask Jesus to give us new birth–new hearts–and new eyes. That is a prayer He loves to answer. To start over. Begin with a clean page. Ready for God to write new things into our hearts and lives.
A new (spiritual) normal
During the Pandemic and Quarantine, have you had some serious thoughts about what is really important in life? About where this world could be headed? About your need of deeper faith and a closer walk with God?
If you have, that is most likely because God is calling you. Recognize this as His personal invitation. Tell Him what you desire and ask Him to do for you what you can’t do for yourself: to give you a new heart, the ability to understand Him and His words, victory over what holds you back.
Like Jesus’ first disciples, you can awaken to a new life. Because this same Jesus is alive today, and is just as powerful and present as before.