On Not Getting Back to Normal



November 24, 2020

John 21:1-5 (NIV)

Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3 “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

“No,” they answered.


It doesn’t take long to get back to normal. Three years of life completely turned upside down by Jesus, a shocking death, a stunning resurrection and back to normal—

“I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

There’s another way of saying, “get back to normal.” It’s called going back to sleep. It doesn’t take long to go back to sleep. Waking up can be the hardest thing in the world, and going back to sleep can be the easiest. The old life, the old normal, has deep grooves and holds enormous gravity. 

“Give them a break,” some say, “Let them go fishing.” How can I make such a judgment? For me it comes down to how Jesus addresses them. The NIV makes a curious translation here with “Friends.” The Greek word is paidion. Most translations use the word, “children.” It means a young child. He didn’t use the terms “doulos” (servants) or “philos” (friends) which he had used before. He called them little children. They were in active regression—going back to the old normal—drifting back into sleep. 

Though John’s Gospel opens with the invitation to become children of God, the goal of the gospel is to grow us up in the grace and truth of Jesus. We are about to witness a reset. 

Remember days back when Jesus brought his disciples into friendship with him? Remember in particular what he told them at that time. 

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:15)

Jesus awakens us. Jesus disciples us. Jesus bands us together. He doesn’t intend for us to go back to normal, to drift back to sleep. He has plans and purposes for us. 

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. (John 15:16)

Many of us find ourselves in a state of heightened awakening these days. For all the havoc brought on by COVID-19, it has given many the gifts of awakening. Our arrested development has been, . . . well, . . . arrested. We are at a different place with Jesus now; a new place. This global pandemic will end and life will go back to normal. The piercing question we must prepare to answer: will we go back to normal? 


Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who is risen from the dead and ascended at your right hand. Thank you Jesus for sharing everything with us that you learned from your Father. Thank you for calling us your friends. Thank you for choosing us and appointing us to go and bear much lasting fruit. Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit who is bringing it all to pass—right here and right now. I don’t want to go back to normal. Show me the way forward. I am with you now. We pray in your name, amen.


1. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” How are you growing up into maturity in Jesus Christ? 

2. Do you realize the power of the gravity of the old normal? The old life? How will you withstand it? 

3. Do you realize the power of the gravity of Jesus is greater than the gravity of the world? The Spirit is willing. What will be the cost of abandoning your life and will to Jesus? What will be the cost of not doing so? 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

P.S. The Daily Text series on the Gospel of John goes on PRE-ORDER TODAY. It’ll be regularly priced at $19.95, but for now we are offering a deal as big as the book. Only $9.95 per copy through November 30 (50% off!). At that rate, you can afford to sow them extravagantly. 


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  1. I’m not sure this pandemic will end any time soon. In addition to the angst caused by this pandemic, we as the people of God are now facing the real possibility of true persecution for our faith here in America. I believe the possibility of returning to business as usual is daily appearing less likely. I believe God has pulled back the curtain so to speak, in order to reveal just how weak and ineffective the institutions we’ve placed our trust in really are. God may have just “filled in” some of those deep ruts. I do agree that we are standing at the threshold of a reset. In my opinion, the real challenge here, is to recognize the gift that God has given us in allowing us to peek behind the curtain that separates the physical and spiritual realms. The choice as I see it is this: Will we place our total allegiance in Jesus Christ and his kingdom, even if it means possible persecution, or will we compromise our faith to avoid suffering?

  2. I do not know what normal is. I am who I am and I’ve been this way for a long time. If I had a new normal it would be to be bold about the things of God especially to my family. They have heard me before but have they ever heard me-who knows! OH that God would open their hearts and minds to recieve him. MY new normal to be Bold in prayer, to be on my knees before the father. To bring him into every apect of my life.