By SHERYE S. GREEN
A recent radio broadcast introduced me to a new term —“room to live.” The program, an interview between the radio host and a law enforcement safety officer, encouraged safe driving. The officer recounted investigating numerous wrecks from which people walked away virtually unscathed from the ruins of a totally demolished car. “Room to live,” the talk show guest said, is the accident reconstruction terminology for the part of a car, generally a seat, in which a passenger could potentially survive if restrained by a seat belt.
The program was of particular interest to me as I am now teaching criminal justice on the college level. I am constantly soaking up new terminology about a subject which I studied extensively in graduate school and in which I have a great interest. “Room to live” is now an addition to the new vocabulary I am mastering.
As I’ve pondered that term, I’ve thought long and hard about this middle season of life and about how it has afforded me, as it has perhaps for many of you, more room to live. Although I’ve been teaching for almost twenty of thirty-four years spent in the workforce, my new schedule affords me the opportunity to be at home more than I am at work. For the first time in as many years, I am able to slow down and smell some of life’s roses.
Part of what affords a car crash victim the opportunity to survive a potentially life-threatening event is that the structural integrity of the automobile is not compromised in the section of the vehicle in which the occupant is seated. According to data from the National Safety Council, the most critical factor which allows a passenger to become a survivor and not a statistic is the use of a seat belt. I have been in two car wrecks; in both, I was belted in.
The structural integrity of my walk with the Lord affords me the same opportunity not only to survive but also to thrive in an otherwise life-altering season of life—the middle ages. Jesus living within me is my seat belt for the road of life. These years have the opportunity to be some of the best, but only if I am properly equipped for the journey.
Seat belts save lives. Jesus, through His death on Calvary and His subsequent resurrection, saved my life. Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible, published in 1862, shares this version of 2 Corinthians 5:14, “for the love of the Christ doth constrain us.” The Word is very clear that I will encounter “crashes” in this life; it’s a matter of when, not if. In the same way passengers are constrained or kept in place in a car by a seat belt during a wreck, Jesus keeps my life in place, holding me safely in His grasp even in the midst of trying circumstances.
Seat belts keep the occupants of a car in their seats during a crash. These middle years can be a season of wandering for some. In times when I feel like God is far away, I must remember that He has not created the distance; I have. Practicing disciplines of prayer, confession, and spending quality time in God’s Word have the same effect on my Christian life as my clicking the seat belt in place as soon as I get into my car. Regardless of the temptation to stray, I will stay securely in place if Jesus is my seat belt.
Seat belts spread the brunt of the force created during a crash across the stronger areas of a car occupant’s body, like the shoulders or hip area, in order to reduce physical damage. The middle years can be filled with all kinds of “life-threatening” situations—job changes, lifestyle transitions including divorce from or death of a spouse, additional responsibilities of caring for aging parents, grappling with a lack of purpose or direction, the loss of family members or friends. Christians can take heart that even while grappling with life’s greatest challenges, God’s great love, like a seat belt, protects and shields us. Jesus Himself carries the full weight of our sorrows on His shoulders.
The Apostle Paul also knew another meaning of “room to live.” He writes in Acts 17:28, “in Him we live and move and have our being” (NKJV). No matter what life throws at us, Jesus has the ability to take all the chaotic details and orchestrate them in such a way that they bless us and bring honor and glory to His name.
At least 24 states and the District of Columbia have laws requiring motorists to use seat belts. Each individual driver, however, still has the choice whether or not to utilize and employ this proven life-saving device. Those of us who call ourselves by the name of Christ must make a conscious decision on a daily basis to allow Jesus to be the Lord of our lives.
If you find yourself in the middle ages of your life, I pray that you will stay securely fastened within the life-saving belt only Jesus can offer. This special season offers so many wonderful opportunities. May you find His room to live.
Sherye S. Green is a Jacksonian, a teacher at Hinds Community College, and a wife, mother, and grandmother. Sherye and her husband, Mark, are members of First Baptist Church Jackson. She is also the author of Abandon Not My Soul.