A Parent’s Great Commission

   In the summer of 1996, just before midnight, the youth and adults on our Mission Trip to Lexington, Kentucky were bunking down for sleep while I was out driving the church van around the same three blocks in what seemed to me a never-ending track of exhaustion. Cayla, a little over a year old, on her first mission trip, was in her car seat behind me slowly losing the battle between wake and sleep. She wouldn’t go to sleep in the church where we were staying, so I put her in the van and went hoping the driving wheels and the hum of the road would lull her to sleep. That was her first of many ‘mission trips’ to come. By age 12, she’d been on 13. As she graduated from high school, she planned a trip to Russia. In college, she coordinated projects for our Haiti partnership that will end up providing ongoing health care to thousands of children in Haiti. Now, she through her cap in the air and her gown aside after finishing Berry College and is off in Morocco with The Peace Corps.
   As parents, Carrie and I have worked very hard to make a home for our family. That’s what we do, as parents, we work to make a house a home not knowing that our children are conspiring against us all along. While we tell them, “Settle down!” making that our life’s goal, having found each other and settled down, our children are, year after year, with every birthday, cranking it up. No matter what age, as soon as you think you’ve mastered being a parent, they grow to a new stage in their development and your incompetence. I had always heard, “Give your children, roots and wings.” Well, guess what. The wings are far more powerful than the roots.
   I should have seen it coming with Cayla. She put on her backpack for school, but school wouldn’t be enough. She chose horseback riding as a hobby but going around in circles only satisfied her for so long. 
   Yes, I should have seen it coming. Every Sunday she heard me charge a congregation to go out in the world, that’s what we do as pastors. But congregations are expected to come back a week later (or at least next Christmas or Easter). Even so, every once in a while, you get someone who does more on a mission trip than get a small dose, they catch fire. Every once in a while , you get someone in church who actually listens to the gospels and the words of Jesus who says ‘build’ 11 times but ‘go’ 111 times. Look at church facilities and budgets, I think we reversed the ratio. Not Cayla. Even though we seldom preach about the Great Commission where Jesus tells his followers to descend the mountain and “Go into all the world,” apparently on those Sundays, she’s been listening.
   Looking back as full-time parent and part-time pastor in my daughter’s life, I guess I should warn you. Be careful if you come to worship on Sunday, the warm coals of your heart might catch fire – then, as Dr. Seuss says, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go.”