- Dustin Ellis
A QUIET CALLING IN QUARANTINE
I feel like I am at church camp again. I used to love church camp. I grew up as an only child so getting away to camp was my chance for adventure with other people. There were all the games and activities. And the camp was in east Texas with these awesome hills and a small creek that carved out a little canyon right through middle of the place. It made for some epic capture the flag games. Every minute that wasn’t spent sleeping or in large group worship was spent playing and running in an effort to squeeze the life out of the week.
The worst part of the day was the afternoon when we had an hour of “reflection time.” The pool was closed, you couldn’t walk around, no games, no basketball, no exploring the east Texas piney woods. We had to get our Bibles and find a quiet place to be absolutely and miserably still. Sitting in our cabins or on a bench somewhere, surrounded by so many wonderful distractions that we couldn’t participate in, to sit and stare at our Bibles and pray. It was terrible. We would all sit with the slow tick tock of seconds and minutes waiting for the loud camp siren to blow, signaling that we could start having fun again.
Now that I am grown up, I try not to be too hard on myself, but I look back at that kid who couldn’t sit still to save his life, and I smirk. I can hear him complaining to the youth leader about “quiet time,” getting in trouble at least once a week for being up playing with a friend rather than spending the time alone in prayer. I tell myself, “You were just young. You didn’t realize what an incredible opportunity you were handed. You didn’t realize that you were handed an hour of uninterrupted time to read the word, to pray to fellowship with God.” A time or two I may have told myself, “If you had it to do over again, now with your wisdom you would do it differently.”
I feel like I am there again. I live in a great state (the greatest) and in an incredible community with so many fun things to do and with so many incredible people to do them with, but I have been told, “No, no, no. It’s time for social distancing, quiet time, reflection time.” I have been told once again to go to my cabin, find a bench and sit, once again with the slow tick tock of the clock waiting for someone to sound the alarm so I can get back to normal life, get back to the fun stuff.
What I didn’t get then, and I think that I struggle with now, is that back at camp so many years ago, I wasn’t being kept from anything. I was being given a gift. Psalm 62:1-2 says “My soul waits in silence for God only; From Him is my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.” I wish I could look back on that kid at summer camp and see him digging into God’s word during that time, taking advantage of every quiet second he was given. Sadly, that’s not the case, and I fear that when this time is over and it’s time to head back out into the world, I’ll have similar regrets about the way I’ve spent this time.
Now to be certain, this isn’t a summer camp. I do not want to gloss over our current circumstances because they are difficult and trying. People are sick, some are dying. Some of us are losing our jobs. But we are also being given an opportunity. Ephesians 5: 15-17 tells us “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
Much like during quiet time at summer camp, we are being forced to remove distractions, reduce the “clutter” of life. We can’t be over-committed. We have no baseball games to go to, no recitals to attend, no dinner parties to host. Many of us have given up the privilege of an hour-long drive to work. Being busy has been removed from the menu.
Rather than waiting this time out, rather than counting the seconds and minutes until we get back to living our normal lives, let’s consider what God wants for us during this time. As I pray and reflect for me, I know that He wants me to reconnect with my wife, to play games and read stories with my kids, to find new and different ways to serve my community. Rather than waiting, what’s God calling you to during this time?