When they cut the three right open and start pulling out the inner guts, there isn’t a sound in the room.
They’re focused and silent and pulling at strings and ripping away at things and I wonder if I am doing any of this ridiculous thing right?
Not the pumpkins — I could care less how we hack these three up. It’s the kids, this year, my life.
I keep losing the keys and time and bits of my stringy mind and it’s hard to keep company with Jesus when you are losing your sanctification over piles of shoe rubble heaped at the back door.
Unanswered letters haunt at the desk. I don’t sew. Or can, or found charities, or take the Gospel into the the mosquito-humming depths of the jungle. I lose to the laundry. Scrape burnt soup from the bottom of the pressure cooker I let hiss like an angry mistake far too long.
Holler at kids and beg forgiveness and lay in bed awake facing all the things I’d said I’d never become.
Am I making any of the right decisions?
I’ve never been here before — so how do I know the way?
Does a middle class life in North America add up to more than a hill of beans? Do you get on planes to bless the materially blessed with more of the Words of God and call it the great commission? Or do you stay at home and sort the socks from the underwear and pray for revival and give to missions month and train them up in the godly way they should go and referee mindless bickering while begging God to somehow multiply your life into more than a few flailing, gasping fish. You’ve only got one life.
Shalom’s pulling pumpkin entrails right out.
She has this one tendril curling around the frame of her face. I can see the scar of that fan blade on Levi’s one finger as he scoops out the pulp. The clock’s ticking loud.
You’ve only got one blink of a life to make count for eternity.
Have I read enough chapters out loud to them all piled close or read too many facebook status updates from people I didn’t even really know twenty years ago? Have I laughed at enough abnoxious knock-knock jokes or been too busy walking through doors to somewhere else? Or have I played enough rousing games of monopoly, tickled into the dark, listened with every chamber of my selfish heart? Will Levi and his brothers someday be standing in ties to give eulogies that I was a mother who plucked straight out of the pulsing best of her to make them into balding, blessed men?
It’s only your own sacrifices that show up at your funeral.
Am I making any of the right ones?
When are your sacrifices really just about lining your own nest? What road, what career, what part of the world and is it okay to stay here or is it okay to go and is that even the right question? Do you have to choose between mothering and mission or can you choose both and what does that really look like at 11:30 on a Friday morning in Kansas?
Will I someday be standing with scars to give account before Him that I wasn’t about my own comfort but Christ’s call, that I didn’t make my life about safe living but about dangerous dying, that I didn’t escape into a neat, saved American dream but into a messy, mission-driven God-sized demand.
Malakai’s digging hard up through the center and innards slip to the floor.
I lean over, scoop up the tangled mess, finger one of the wet seeds. It’s so smooth. So ready.
What am I doing with my one wild life?
Am I making any of the right decisions?
And I remember 10 years ago and a Sunday morning and it echoes in my head in this quiet room of kids and pumpkins and this pulpy warm cry from deep inside.
Levi wasn’t six months old.
Our little country Bible Chapel wasn’t 10 minutes from the farm, just over the country line. Corn fields to the south of the chapel. A maple woods just behind the chapel to the west, behind the gravel yard where all the farmers park their pickups. And on the far side of the chapel, just to the north — Leary’s pond.
Hot dog roasts at the pond. Canoes and paddleboats on the pond. Summer baptisms in the pond. But no one really wanted to lose a wonderful kid – or really, any kid– in the pond after Sunday services.
And Hope, she was just 3 and she was scared of that pond after Sunday services. And the maple woods. The girl wanted a fence and rules and where she should go — but there was no fence that marked the lines of this space here and this way there.
The kid got it early. Fences and rules are easier — this is the best life and that is the less life, this is the way and that is a copout, this family is on fire for the Kingdom and this family is just going to crash and burn.
But the Farmer, he scooped up his little girl and said it in his gentle spoken way — “I’ll stand outside after the service and I’ll be keep a close eye for you. But listen.” He’d cupped Hope’s full cheeks in his field worn hands. “Your Dad will call you– and if you can’t hear him? You’re not where you are meant to be.”
Your Father calls you.
And if you can’t hear Him?
Am I making the right decisions?
“Do you think this is good enough?” Levi shows me the inners of his pumpkin and I’m looking in his eyes, right into his eyes.
We want clarity — and God gives a call. We want a road map — and God gives a relationship. We want answers — and God gives His hand.
The whole room, it’s still quiet and holy full and God singularly calls you and a call from God is about relationship and a call is something one keeps listening for — come this way, come to the land I will show you. God didn’t give Abraham a map — He gave Abraham a relationship. He doesn’t want you to lean on a guidebook. God wants you to lean on the Guide — who speaks to you through His Book. Why would God give a map — when He wants to give you Himself?
We need the person of God more than we need the plan for our life.
Shalom looks up and I hear her and I hear Him and a calling is something you never stop listening for. And I help Shalom scoop out the very last and I’ve come to the skin of it and I know the way through for me… And career – career, it comes from the French word — carriere — meaning road or a highway, and a career is about well marked roads and clear fences and mapping out your life, following the chart, focused on these goals.
A career is about the guidebook and a calling is about leaning on the Guide who speaks to you through His Book. A career is about making a plan and a calling is about trusting a Person who changes the plan. Grace, that careers can fall way to callings.
The call that thing one keeps listening for and the heart of faith is the ear.
And after the innards have all been spooned and the pumpkin pureed and the stories read and the kids put to bed, I find the pillow and lay the ear up against His Word and I read it and I hear Him:
This is the way for you — not her way, not their way — but My Way for You.
I have to stay close enough to the Word to hear my Father’s voice.
And in the stillness, the Father’s voice calls and there is a moving back closer to hear Him —
The sound of peace and what you were meant to be filling all the room.
So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be … ”