Monday, March 31, 2008

Camp Lee

From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be
praised (Psalm 113:3).

I made the same promise every summer, usually in August. I broke it every fall, usually by late September.

My church youth group made a pilgrimage every year to a holy site just outside of Anniston, Alabama: Camp Lee. Surrounded by the thick pine forests of central Alabama, we were allowed, actually ordered, to find a secluded place each morning for our “quiet time.” This was a no-talking, no-radio, no-friends-around time with God. It was always in the a.m. and it was always outdoors. Since the dew had not quite relinquished its claim on the grounds, the time spent with God was matched by time spent finding a dry place to sit. Nevertheless, every day was to begin with quiet time and a little dampness on your rear wouldn’t get in the way of that.

Those daily quiet times were one of the best parts of our week at Camp Lee. By Friday of the week I was ready to make a commitment to go home and continue those quiet times. I made that promise more than once. I would get home and have a quiet time every day. And then school started. What’s that old saying about good intentions?

My last summer at Camp Lee was more than twenty-five years ago and I’m still learning to keep the promises I made there. I don’t use the phrase “quiet time” much any more. But I still practice the discipline, even if erratically. I learned to value that kind of time with God and I can’t imagine a life not anchored by that kind of spiritual practice.

But I learned something else at Camp Lee as well. Without being aware of it, my “quiet time” taught me that time with God ended when the camp bell rang and called us all back together for some kind of noisy talkative activity. No one taught me to see God in every hour, every activity, every interaction. No one explained to me that there was really no difference between morning “quiet time” and afternoon “free time.” I never thought much about God’s presence in softball games and time spent hanging out. My life of faith was carved up with spiritual slivers here and there: church on Sunday, a little God-time in the a.m. and then on to the business of, well, busy-ness. The 95%.

The Psalmist said that the name of the Lord was to be praised from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets. That’s surely a statement that lays claim to the entire earth, all the acreage from one tip of the globe to the other. But perhaps it’s also a statement that claims time – all the hours of the day, from sun up to sun down, from rising to sleeping again and every moment in between. That’s the focus of “my95.” The life of faith is not lived adequately by having quiet times and going to church. The life of faith involves everything about your life – from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets. Nothing is left out.

If you’re reading this you’ve taken some time for a daily “devotional.” That’s a good thing – but God wants the rest of your day as well. Think through the day, from the rising of the sun to its setting. Ask God to meet you in every meeting, every errand, every class and practice and conference call. Look for God in the 95% and remember that all of time can be “quiet time.”

Your name, O Lord, is to be praised everywhere and all the time; from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets. In these moments I give you praise and thanks for the gift of this day. Help me to continue my worship beyond these “devotional” moments. Teach me how to join you in what you are doing all around me. Help me to notice your presence in all things, from sun up to sun down. Amen.

1 comment:

Craig said...

Mark, this is a great word--and a great blog. It truly feeds the soul.

Hope we can reconnect sometime.

Craig Higgins
Mercer '83