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The Killing Power of Normality

Stephen's blog at Peaceable Zealot called "Holy Week" has given me reason for a good deal of reflection over the past few days. Nothing could be more expected or more spiritually deadening that the fact that I know, and have long known that Jesus Christ is the risenSon of the Living God. For me, the "aha!" of that truth came decades ago in the frigidly cold waters of a small Kentucky creek, when I willing buried my own life in order to be raised as the slave to a King.
Try as I might, I cannot live forever in the glow of that first touch of grace. The truth is I face the same reality with my marriage, my kids, and just about every other long term interrelationship in my life. The first overwhelming thrill of the new is eventually supplanted by the steady flow of the nice but normal.

I have come to believe that it is ultimately self-serving and destructive to want to live constantly in the breathless ecstasy of that first date.
Thirty good years of marriage have not removed love from our relationship, but it has certainly tempered the giddy infatuation of a teenager's first crush. In the same way, I believe in our walk with God was never intended to be constantly on some mountaintop of celebration and joy. I am convinced that trying to design and structure Christian worship so that every weekly gathering "tops" the week before is less about honoring God and more about satisfying our own cravings for one God to provide us with yet another and even bigger high.

But Stephen's blog post forces me to admit that I still need to occasional return to those "first love" moments. That’s what I think Jesus meant when he spoke of “first love” to the church at Ephesus (Revelation 2). Just as, in my marriage, there are those days when I just can't wait to see Linda and have those moments alone that are even better than those giddy first days of marriage thirty years ago. No, not every day. That’s true. Maybe not even every week. But, still, they do happen. And when they do, all the years of mundane living seem to disappear and it is as if we are newlyweds again. To acknowledge that we should expect every week to be a mountaintop does not mean we are left with nothing but valleys in which to live. Everyone once and awhile we need to let God pull us back up to the heights, if no other reason than to remind us why we can endure the valleys with joy.

To experience, in the midst of the ongoing flow of numbing normality, the occasional renewed wonder of the resurrection, the surprise of grace, the thrilling sense of the inward presence of God the Holy Spirit with the excitement of a new convert is something I want to embrace. Not to seek the high of such moments, but to seek the "him" of those moments. As Paul says, "That I might know him, and the power of his resurrection, sharing in the fellowship of his suffering."

Our year by year walk with God, like a solid lifelong marriage, requires that we be open to miracle of falling in love again and again and again.