The New Normal: Living a Fear-Free Life in a Fear Driven World
Prolific author and speaker Jill Briscoe sets a tone for robust, faith-driven hope against a backdrop of cultural despair, fear and uncertainty. She challenges all Christians to cling to this positive expectant-type of thinking as the only viable lifestyle in a world gone adrift.
Opening her text, Briscoe shares the tremulous moments she experienced on 9/11 while flying back from Russia to the United States. High above the Atlantic, writes Briscoe, our world entered the "new normal." It was at this moment (as she reached for the emergency procedure card in the seat before her) that the author had to revisit her faith and decide if she did indeed believe what she had for years professed both publicly and privately. Was God in control? Like so many other believers, Briscoe admits that her faith was tested and she battled to find her mental and spiritual footing.
Wrestling internally, Briscoe reaffirmed to herself some foundational key principles regarding her understanding of God and His character. She reminded herself that God is never caught off-guard and He cannot be shaken or moved, even when everything else falls apart. God is there (here), sustaining and supporting. Like so many in the world who ask why God would allow such tragedy, Briscoe also felt these questions rise. She considered life --- with all its pain, divorce, infidelity, disease, financial ruin --- and wondered how people would be able to cope with the added burden of this "new normal" and its substantially heightened level of uncertainty that gave rise following 9/11. People aren't coping well; society as a whole is experiencing more anxiety, depression, panic and pessimism across all classes, creeds and ages. Briscoe admits to some sleepless nights following 9/11 where instead of counting sheep, she was counting terrorists.
So what is the answer to regain a solid spiritual standing whereby Christians do not simply survive the next onslaught of terror, but reach out with compassionate care and courage? Briscoe believes Christians have two choices. They can head down the path of fear, thus paralyzing and debilitating any potential good that hope may offer an unbelieving world. Or they can deal with the fear factor with faith; the faith factor, says Briscoe, is rooted in the Father factor. Whom we place our trust in is paramount. Likewise, trusting God and His unfaltering love is essential because the Bible states plainly, "The secret things belong to the Lord our God..." (Deuteronomy 29:29). Meaning what? That on this side of heaven there will be countless "secrets" Christians will have to leave hanging in God's faithful hands --- not every answer will be given on earth. Briscoe tells Christians to remember that life is fleeting and today's opportunity to share the love of Christ with a terrified world is short. The author lovingly admonishes fellow believers to set aside mediocrity and get on with the business of evangelizing, seeing the brevity of life for what it truly is.
As is Briscoe's custom, she communicates with a gentle sincerity and her advice begs to be followed. Both the careworn and the apathetic will appreciate this message to live life boldly and with unconventional conviction.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on September 6, 2005