These days, many of us long to “go back to normal”. But in spiritual terms, the condition of our lives isn’t – and never was – normal at all.
This realisation came for me when I started thinking about God the Father, his Being, his Nature and his existence before the Universe (not an easy task!!).
However, one positive result of thinking about God, and Heaven was this: before mankind existed, and before things went lopsided with the fall of Lucifer, there was a state of PERFECTION. Perfect love, unity, order, direction, understanding – perfect everything. And THAT my friends is NORMALITY.
Heaven is the Only Normal
Heaven sets the baseline for what is (or used to be/should be) our intended normal.
What we experience day by day isn’t normality, by any stretch of the imagination. We are familiar with this earth and all its limitations, think of that as normality, so we tend to think of Heaven as something beyond that, greater than, or additional to our earthy normality.
It’s not really like that at all! It is WE who have crossed over the line into ABNORMAL living! This life isn’t as God intended at all.
It’s a bit like being a fish out of water – fishes are intended to live in water although some can exist outside it for a while, but it’s not in its natural habitat at all, until it finds the sea or a pond.
Raise a wild animal in a home or a zoo and it knows nothing else. It has base instincts but they are thwarted by its unnatural environment, and getting it back to the wild take a certain amount of re-training and encouragement.
So we are creatures created by God to be perfect, living in a perfect environment, and then Satan tricked us into accepting less, much less. Now we can hardly even remember our home or the way we were intended to be.
What was intended – think about this – what existed and was intended even when mankind was created (indeed, when everything was created) was the same kind of normal as in Heaven.
Part of the prayer that Jesus prayed was “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”. Yet even when that happens, after the return of Jesus, it will still not be the total perfection of Heaven.
Our Lives Fall Short
We have to make do and make the best of what we have down here, and sometimes that feels like normality. But it should not! Why do we think that attaining comfort and ease, and freedom from harm, with friends and family safe and secure, is a good example of “normality” when everything we do down here on earth is so FAR from normality that we have forgotten what that really is. We are just kidding ourselves.
Our version of normal is so very far from the truth of who we are, what we were created for, and what we can return to through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus.
What we have is an illusion, an aberration, a pretense that keeps us sane; we pretend things are going well when they are actually always on the verge of falling apart, except for the ongoing grace of the Lord.
Listed here are some of the things that, we might think, add up to a good “normal life”. You can probably add more.
- Good housing
- Enough money; no debts
- Home comforts
- A reliable career
- Good kids
- Loving parents
- Friends and neighbours
- Fine weather
- No accidents or disasters
- Entertainments and hobbies
- Lovely scenery
- Settled way of life
- No worries or fears
However, no matter what we own, or do, the truth is that this world’s version of normal is riddled through with disappointment and failure, even for Christians. Nothing is ever quite satisfactory, or long lasting enough. There’s always a longing for more, or better.
Even on a good day, when there is joy and satisfaction, there’s also irritation, confusion, misunderstandings, dashed hopes…NONE of that is our intended normal! We just accommodate ourselves to it and brush it aside to focus on the good.
There’s also the problems that come along like disagreements, envy, lies, betrayal and relationship breakdowns, as well as loss – especially the loss of a child.
Let’s face it, life is unstable at the best of times. It’s so far from the security and dependability of heaven that – when you think about it – we are just kidding ourselves thinking this is good or normal at all. Because it’s not – this world is fallen!
We Lost the Best and Accepted the Satanic Alternatives
Everything here has been ruined by the Fall. Nature itself “groans” and longs for the original perfection [Romans 8:22]; animals suffer, natural disasters come to destroy communities, the climate suffers, and man has a habit of making things worse.
As for humanity, I don’t need to tell you how fallen that is.
We know about crime, and selfishness, hatred and bigotry – so many sins deeply embedded in each one of us. We are not immune! Being a Christian dampens down the fire of our flesh most of the time, but we still get flare-ups, and basically we are SELFISH. We tend to “look out for number one” most of the time.
We look around on a nice day, sigh, breath the sweet air, listen to the birds, and think “isn’t this lovely?”. Yes, it is, but it’s not normality – because that can only be attained by returning to the first condition of mankind, in the perfection of knowing God and trusting ourselves to him completely, believing not only in his divinity but his love and guidance, his grace and power and glory.
Not one thing is wrong is Heaven. Not one thing out of place, or done in the wrong spirit, or meant unkindly. Nothing hidden, or underhand, or disappointing. Perfect love! Perfect fulfillment! There is just NOTHING amiss in Heaven. Take a moment to imagine that! Then you’ll begin to see how far our earthly life falls short in every aspect.
Heaven sets the standard, and God has existed in perfection for eternity, it is we who have forsaken it and suffered the consequences.
What Are We Saved For?
The work of salvation is not just to try to overcome sin and “make us good”, so that in some way we can be pleasing to God. In terms of redemption, we can NEVER be totally pleasing to God, but we become acceptable because of the shed blood of the One who WAS perfectly pleasing to God his Father. We can be reconciled to a Holy God!
No, it’s not about good versus evil, but about being RECONCILED to God the Father, so that we might once more enjoy the normality that is in Heaven. Before even the earth was thought of, before man was thought of, there was God – and the normal condition of God was perfection in every aspect.
God doesn’t just exhibit love and life and truth – God IS love, God IS life, God IS truth! These things are an integral part of God and his Heavenly places, and we are too – if we are incorporated into the Son of God, and he dwells within us by his Spirit.
No, we do not have “normal life” here and now, but we can look forward to experiencing that in the life to come.
Once you take that on board you can begin to see how far we have all fallen, and also appreciate the joy of reconciliation.
For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee … Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. [2 Cor 5:1-5 and 17-19]