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A Slice Of Life To Go is an online Christian blog written by Todd Thompson. It encourages people to see the beauty in ordinary moments and to know God’s unconditional, unfailing love in everyday life.

Extra Cars

September 24th, 2003

The extra cars parked in front of the house could have been there for any reason.

A gathering of friends to watch Monday Night Football. A Pampered Chef party. A Neighborhood Watch meeting. Maybe even a Bible study.

There’s lots of houses in this valley of 3 million people and more cars than houses. So many cars that to the eye they become invisible moving pieces against a background of stucco houses and palm trees.

The extra cars parked in front of the house could have been there for any reason. Those that drove by in their minivans full of kids coming home from soccer practice or clarinet lessons probably didn’t give it a second thought, save an extra tap on the brake to cleanly split the middle between the Ford Expedition and the Chevy Silverado pickup parked on either side of the street. We live in a big city. Cars park anywhere and everywhere at every hour of the day. As long as we get from A to B and back again without a scratch to ours or anyone else’s, it’s a good day.

The extra cars parked in front of the house could have been there for any reason. Unless someone told you, you wouldn’t know their drivers were inside doing their human best to comfort the family of a young man who, for reasons no one will ever know, made the decision to silence the ghosts of his mind with a bullet through his head.

There was an extra car parked in East Mesa a couple nights before. The young man behind the wheel, parked in a favorite spot. He’d been there many times before to escape the city lights and look up at the stars. No one knows if he looked up this night or if he looked only at the gun in his hand. Only God knows what his thoughts were, what words were spoken, or how he expressed the torment and pain that pushed him to his limit. Only God knows.

From now on there will be one less car in the driveway of this house. Unless we’ve experienced the same, we can only imagine the pain. We can only imagine the reality of living the rest of our life without a beloved son or grandson or brother. Only God understands what happened. Only God has the answers. Only God knows. We make ourselves too big and God too small when we pretend otherwise.

The extra cars parked in front of the house were there for a reason. The pickup was big, but not big enough to hold any answers. Just big enough to bring people to gather around the grieving. To hug and to hold. To cry and to comfort. To sit and stare. To pause and to pray.

The stucco houses all look the same. Yet behind every front door are unique human beings created in the image of God who share the common burden of living in a fallen world. We don’t always have answers but we have God and we have each other. In the face of tragedy, we often discover both. When ours is the extra car in front of the house, we’re showing the love of God as best we can by “comforting one another with the comfort with which we ourselves have been comforted by God”.

On its best days, life is rough and tumble. You don’t have to wait for a crisis to comfort and encourage. Be the person who drops by to say, “I was thinking about you today. How’s life?” Be the person who makes dinner and brings it over to your friend just because it’s Tuesday. Be the one who sends the funny email to give someone a laugh. Be the person who buys the coffee and listens to the concerns. Be the friend who says, “I’ve been there and God helped me through.” When you bring comfort and encouragement, nobody minds if you park in front.

Be the extra car in front of the house.

Because the day will come for all of us when we’ll want a crowd in our driveway.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4