Car Seats

I’m, well….past fifty let’s just say. I’ve entered a period of my life where big questions haunt me: What have you done with your life? What fingerprint are you leaving behind on the world? Have you raised your children well and set them on a good path? (We have one teenager at home, and three adult children that are off living life well.)

These are the questions that follow us when we reach what Rohr calls, “The Second Half of Life.” When you get there, you’re supposed to be slowing down from the details, having bigger conversations, making more impact with your presence. While I definitely feel like my platform has grown and I’m able to to push into bigger movements and conversations, a view in my rear-view mirror the other day caught me by surprise.

As I was driving in my manly, Toyota 4-Runner, with a large fly-fishing rack on top that looks like a 50-caliber cannon, with aggressive off-road tires and dirt all over it, as if the mountains are always calling my name, I looked in my rear-view mirror to be jerked into a reality. In my mirror were two children’s car seats.

The car seats belong to two kiddos that are living with us right now, mainly because no-one else will take them, or can take them. They are presently wards of the state and need a safe place to live. Kitty and I, some time back, met a young woman, answering her cries on Facebook. Over that time, she joined our small missional community, and shortly thereafter, we were present for the birth of her youngest son, now two, and present in the life of her daughter, now five. Mom has had a stint in jails around the Denver and Colorado Springs area, and dad lost the kids to the state. So here we are, car seats in by truck.

Little kiddos come with details. Big questions, large movements and dreaming large life landscapes get pushed to the side. There are diapers, toys, crying, attitudes, lots and lots of questions: what’s that?, want to play Papa?, can you help me?, where’s Memaw? Details reappear as a part of everyday life when you have two little ones again.

Many of you know that I spend a lot of my time thinking about missional practices, how to live out the gospel of God’s kingdom in practical ways. I teach on it, write about it, train it, and live for it. However, many times I think we can be great teachers and speakers of something without having much of a practice in it. (For example, football coaches never play football, do they? Yet they are paid millions to be experts at the game.) It hit me that, while this season of little ones running around our house is challenging my season of a “bigger” life, perhaps it’s the actual practice of a bigger life that matters. Maybe, just maybe, God doesn’t want me on the sidelines as an expert, but as an expert, on the field of play.

Missional living, missional practice, is something that is meant to be active. It can never become words on the page until it is shared in real life, at least not with integrity. Stories are the engine of missional life. I guess my reason for this post, besides it being therapeutic for my sanity, is to encourage those who love Jesus, to find the car seats in their own life. Practice faith in a liminal place, find a gap in the kingdom somewhere and fill it, bring wholeness to a life story, besides in your own comfort and American dream.

When we get done with this life, it’s the scenery in the rear view mirror that will be talked about at our memorial service. Those stories of people’s lives that were affected by the way we lived, the way we loved. As your driving forward in life, start thinking about what’s in the rear-view mirror of your life. For me, even though it’s hard right now, I’m glad there will be car seats.

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