There's this burning desire in all of us to make our lives count.
This desire is usually broken into two life parts:
Part one is defined by running hard towards what the world says we are supposed to. Pursuing the job, the title, the things. Pursuits that are not all bad, but, if they are the primary fuel for all our running, we will burn out.
And then as we get older, we experience achieving these things and as it turns out, these things prove to not scratch that constant itch we've lived with for so long.
The trend then switches. We search for something bigger, something deeper, something way beyond ourselves. We’ve experienced something unsettling: a calling of sorts that comes forth out of a deep inner place.
Spiritual awakening, midlife crisis, call it what you will. But if you’ve felt it, you know it is not easily dismissed.
The title of this blog: “Reckless Remainer” describes someone who’s heart has been captivated by God. It is more than just a check the box and go to heaven kind of faith. To be a reckless remainer means you’ve been hit hard with the hard things of life…but you’ve also tasted a kind of faith that has made it impossible to deny the love of a heavenly father. And so the reckless remainer (R.R.) goes out into the world trying to live in this tension: the tension that bad things will happen BUT God is in them even still.
The R.R.’s vision has been changed. It is far from perfect, but they have learned to search and see God’s hand at work in their circumstances and when they can’t see anything but darkness, they trust God has not abandoned them. He is there. He is working.
This is the kind of faith I desire to have and perhaps you desire it too.
I thought it would be fun to showcase from time to time some reckless remainers out there. And to begin with, I thought I’d introduce you to my dad.
He goes by Keith or Dr. Maxwell, but to me, he is my Melv. Short for Melvin, a middle name he is not the biggest fan of.
My dad came from nothing. But he had a vision for something greater and he had a work ethic that wouldn’t let him rest until that vision was fulfilled.
My parents got married when they were kids. They left the alter with committed hearts to one another and to the vision my dad had carried in his heart for so long: We will do things differently. We will build another kind of life.
And build they did. They built a first act kind of life. The success, the career, the fancy house, and all the beautiful things. But these pursuits only looked like sure things on paper. In reality, they were anything but that.
Then the divorce happened and my mom and dad parted ways permanently. While the divorce was 100% necessary, it still brought with it heavy emotions and a faulty sense of closure.
And then last year happened. My mom had a series of small strokes and the dementia diagnosis was given. Independence was no longer an option for her life.
I remember weighing whether or not I should tell my dad what happened. Because her diagnosis had no impact on him. But I couldn’t keep it in. I remember exactly where I was when I fought back the tears and tried to steady my voice: She’s in a locked unit, they don’t think she’ll ever come out.
He cried at my words. We cried together. Because even though all those years had passed, and life had moved one, we were all still connected in a way.
And then in October my dad got hit by a car while cycling. By God’s grace he walked away from that accident but it changed him. He felt spared. He felt God had protected him for a round two, for an act two.
He decided to go all in with this next chapter. His life was to be a vessel. He declared to use his talents, his resources, and his time left on this earth for building God’s kingdom and only that.
And he started going to see my mom, in that locked unit. He decided to make good on those vows he said almost 40 years ago.
In sickness and in health.
For better or for worst.
’Til death do us part.
My parents will never get remarried. My dad is madly in love with my stepmom and they have an amazing marriage; the kind of marriage that is a testament to God’s love and redemption. And my stepmom has been one of the most beautiful gifts to our family.
So in this second act season, both my dad and stepmom are leaning into what it means to love well, to have open hands, and to leverage whatever they can for God’s kingdom and His glory.
My stepmom has given my dad the freedom to make good on those vows he pledged to my mom so many years ago. And it is a beautiful, holy, and remarkable thing.
My parent’s relationship looks nothing like what I, their daughter, wanted it to look like. Instead, it’s better. It’s better because it is marked with what only a God-given grace could look like. It is an active example of what holy restoration within a family looks like.
God took this dark thing and He changed it. He made it something new, something more beautiful.
And it stems from my Dad responding to that second act invitation. It all stemmed from him saying:
Okay, God, I’m all in. Whatever it is you ask me to do, I will do. Because I don’t want to live a first act kind of life. Leverage it. All of it.
I joked with a friend the other day at the thought of what Satan must think about my mom and dad’s renewed friendship, because if I am scratching my own head at how all this restoration came about, I know without doubt Satan has been thrown by it. The divorce. The addiction. All the heartache. He had to think they were all sure, final things. Darkness reigned for so long. How did the light get in? How the hell did the light get in?
It got in because God is that good. He really does know how to work all things together not only for our good but His glory.
But He won’t force you into this life. Instead, He calls out asking, nudging, whispering: Come let me in to the second act of your life. Come, let me bring light into those places that have never seen such a thing. Come let me leverage it all. Come remain, come abide, just come. And then watch what I can do in and with and through you.
These days you can find my dad back on his bike, cycling his heart out. But you can also find him in the mornings tucked away in his office with a small army of prayer warriors begging God to show up in their day-to-day work. You can find him leading a local charge amongst doctors to step up and be accountable for the amount of narcotics they are prescribing. You can find him and my stepmom pouring their hearts out to serve kingdom building platforms. You can find him praying with his patients and preaching the gospel to them in the small ordinary moments. And several times a week you’ll find him with my mom, reminiscing on all those memories made together cherishing what remains of her mind.
To God be the glory for a life renewed by a marvelous, indescribable kind of light. And to God be the glory for second acts.
To my Melv: Happy, happy birthday. Watching Jesus get ahold of your whole heart has been the most beautiful gift. Thank you for loving those around you with boldness. Thank you for your encouraging spirit. You light up the room you’re in and I am so grateful to call you dad.