By CHRIS BATES
What do we do now?
The anticipation building up to opening day every year feels unbearable. My hunting partners and I always hit that first weekend of hunting season like the starting gates at a horse race. We are a bunch of grown men acting like schoolchildren being let out for recess on the first day of spring.
One particular opening Saturday two years ago, our impatience was made all the worse. After months of waiting, weeks of gear preparation, days of scouting and hours of sleeplessness, with trailers and gear loaded well before dawn, we drove to our hunting land. Just as we arrived, a terrible Delta thunderstorm rolled in.
It was raining buckets, lightning was all around, and the storm stalled right on top of Tallahatchie County. So we had to sit in the truck as gray daylight slowly appeared, and then continue to wait almost two hours before heading out to the blind. The storm ruined the opening day hunt, and we reacted like spoiled kindergarteners.
Moving to present times, the Coronavirus pandemic closed society down. Besides dealing with the fear and dangers of the virus, we also had our normalcy and freedoms taken away. Being shuttered in and unable to work, travel, play and interact with other humans has been incredibly challenging for every single one of us. As it has gone on and on, every person feels like those horses waiting behind the starting gate — we are ready to run straight into whatever life has next for us outside our homes.
Hopefully, we have learned significant lessons during this season of challenge. Ideally it will have led us to our faith more deeply than ever, and we can ease into the new normal of our society being the better for it. As disciples, we now have the greatest opportunity of our lives to move back into the world in new ways as stewards of faith-led example. We can find new ways to love, lead and care for one another.
The Word is giving you and me specific directions. Romans 13:11 tells us, “And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.”
Within stay-healthy practices, we are moving into a time of opportunities for action like some of us have never had. Now is the time to find new ways to love, support and connect with everyone around us. Let your family members know that you are grateful for having had extra time with them. Lift up coworkers and associates, who have been living at home with the same fears that you have walked through. Be more appreciative than ever for those changing your oil or preparing your legal documents, as much as for the pediatrician caring for your child’s runny nose. Make a list of things you can do, like paying a compliment to someone you do not know for every time you use hand sanitizer. Every moment going forward is a chance to see God’s grace in the person beside you, and to help them reflect it.
So what exactly can you go and contribute to shape our new normal? Ecclesiastes 9:10 says in part, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might … “ God created each of us with talents and skills, and His Son challenged us to find and use them. Now is the time to contribute your gifts, having learned from the harshness of the shelter-in-place and living-in-fear times.
Early during the pandemic, my mother said, “When we are able to hug again, we will treasure it more than ever.” That is a poetic representation of what is now right in front of you and me. St Augustine is attributed with saying, “Take care of your body as if you were going to live forever; and take care of your soul as if you were going to die tomorrow.” We can socially distance and share what God has given to each of us at the same time. When better than now to reveal all that you have to give to others?
The world around us has changed. It is now up to us to do our part in shaping what that looks like. In our new world of frequent handwashing and web conferences, search first for what God is telling you, then go and do it with all your might. Go out and wake from the shelter-in-place slumber, and shock someone with your generosity. God is most certainly with you. Be challenged to be a more impactful disciple than ever as we move into a new season together.
Chris Bates is CEO and co-founder of AgoraEversole a full-service marketing agency in Jackson, and can be reached at Chris@AgoraEversole.com. He and his wife, Stacy, and their children live in Madison.