I've Got the Whole Family in My Van
I drove for twelve hours in our minivan with my wife in the seat beside me and my daughters in the backseat behind me. Over the course of two days, we traveled from Ohio to South Carolina for a vacation with family members from all around the country. At times I was the only one in the car who was awake. At other times the whole family was smiling, giggling, and singing along with the radio. Still other times all three girls in the backseat were screaming hysterically. At all times I imagined what it might like to be God with the whole world in the back seat.
There's something I've always liked about being in the driver's seat with the rest of my family in the car. The whole family is there; they're all accounted for. Everyone is safe; everyone is secure. In the driver's seat I have the power to bring them where I need them to go and to keep them safe as we get there. I've wondered if this is how God must feel knowing that he is in control of the entire world.
As the old Sunday school song goes "He's got the whole world in his hands." Sometimes I have that melody floating in my head as I hum "I've got the whole family in my van, I've got the whole family in my van, I've got the whole family in my van, I've got the whole family in my van."
When the family is happy there's nothing better than all being together. It's that idealistic image of a road trip where we imagine singing songs to a mixtape (or playlist from the MP3 player) while enjoying the mountains of West Virginia and the palm trees of North Carolina. God must love those times when the whole world is in harmony and all of his children are happy.
Even when my children are hysterical and upset, I can still see the bigger picture and I know that they are safe. They may think that it is the worst fate in the world to be buckled up and constrained in the car seat or to be antagonized by the sister who won't stop invading her neighbor's space, but I know that in the grand scheme of life, the universe, and everything, being buckled in a car for several hours is not that big a deal. There are so many calamities that are so much worse than that that are flying past us at eighty miles an hour on the interstate, but since I am in the driver seat I'm able to keep them safe and avoid those dangers. They don't even know the dangers from which I've been steering them away. It's not that I don't sympathize with my kids when they're uncomfortable in the back seat. We do what we can to try to make them happy. We give them videos on a tablet, we give them snacks, we give them drinks. Most significantly, we continually remind them that vacation is just a few hours away! No matter how uncomfortable the back seat may be, they can rest assured that the discomfort is temporary and that the fun of vacation lies just on the horizon!
I wonder if God feels the same way about even our worst sufferings. Though he may sympathize with the pain and the misery that we experience in this life, from the perspective of eternity even the most painful of diseases and the most serious of heartbreak must seem insignificant. Who knows how many worse calamities there have been from which God has steered us away of which we are not even aware. The greatest comfort in our deepest sufferings in this life is the knowledge that eternal vacation in the greatest paradise destination ever known is just on the horizon! In the meantime, we can look for the small gifts that God has given us, the movies on tablets, the bags of snacks, and the cups of juice that God may be putting in our lives that we too often take for granted.
So as we enjoy vacations this summer let's remember that just like we've got the whole family in our van, we know that God's got the whole world in his hands!
In her book Where Two or Three are Gathered, Florence Caffrey Bourg wrote "What makes a family a domestic church is a habit of interpreting its ordinary life - for better or worse - as the means through which family members are to seek, know, and love the God made known in Jesus Christ." This is one example of how I interpreted an ordinary experience from life in my domestic church. Have you had a similar experience in your domestic church?