Twenty-one hours and forty-two minutes.

That is how long it will be until middle child’s airplane from Guatemala (via Atlanta today) touches down in Chicago. But today, I’m wondering how long it will be before everything lands in order in the world she returns to.

Three months ago, a pretty mature nineteen-year-old left us for her first extended time away from home. Very extended, and very away. Tomorrow, someone else will return. Someone who has seen things I haven’t seen, done things I haven’t done, and thought thoughts I haven’t thought. Someone who is ready to take her place at the adult table and be respected for those thoughts. Even if she is wearing her Disney Princesses tiara. And I wonder if she will find it difficult to make us move over and give her that place.

I’ve always been somewhat bothered by the phrase in church circles, “Our youth are the church of tomorrow.” It has always made me wonder what we think they are today. Just place holders, like somebody’s hat or jacket left on a seat to make sure the space is occupied until something more important comes along?

No, they’re also the church of today. Here and now. And let’s face it, next to God, the difference in wisdom, maturity, and time between 19 and 49 doesn’t amount to a whole lot. We’re on pretty equal finite footing compared to the omniscient and eternal.

It’s time to move over and make space at the table. We might be surprised at what the church of tomorrow has to offer today. I don’t think I will be, though. I think I’ll just be very, very proud. Including the Princess tiara. Only a truly mature person could carry that off.

In twenty-one hours and 25 minutes.

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