“Are we there yet?”
Twelve+ hours in the car with four kids means you’re bound to hear that question a time or two or a hundred.
Really, though, my kids did pretty well on our journey to Disney and back. We had one outright, “Are we there yet?” yelled up from the backseat.
And one time my baby girl tried to pull one over on us: “How many miles is it to Florida and how long does it take us to drive one mile?”
She figured her math skills would come in handy. She didn’t really have to ask us for an arrival time estimate; she could just gather some info, answer on her own, and we’d be none the wiser.
We didn’t fall for her tricky ways.
But this is the question I find myself asking at times, too.
Are we there yet, Lord?
And it’s wrapped up in childlike fears and wants.
It’s my own impatience, the wanting to be done already, the desire to wrap up the story I’m in with a fairy tale sort of sweet, happy ending.
It’s having a goal in mind, a picture and vision of what’s to come. We’ll know when the journey is over when we get that job or that promotion, when the prodigal comes home, when the relationship heals or the body heals or the heart heals.
For my kids, they knew their story end was Disney World one way and Home on the trip back.
Then, when you pull into the driveway and park your minivan, you’re done. The End. Finished.
You have arrived at your destination.
That’s not always so easy to discern in life, though. When I ask God, “are we there yet?” it’s not just childish impatience because I want the journey to be over already. Sometimes I’m just wondering “Is this IT?”
Is this the end, the destination? Is this where the journey stops and the story finishes? Is this the completed work?
Or is there more? Is the story ongoing? Do I keep praying through these circumstances and trust that we’re not at the end; we’re just somewhere in the middle?
In the silence and in the waiting and in the lull of visible God-activity, I’m tempted to settle into a “new normal.”
This must be “it.” So, I settle down into complacency and resolution.
I don’t love this ending. It’s not what I hoped for. I don’t see God glorified. The story feels unfinished; the promises unfulfilled.
So, “are we there yet, God?”
Because here is where I am.
The Psalmist said:
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
6 my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning (Psalm 130:5-6 ESV).
Philip Yancey writes,
The picture comes to mind of a watchman counting the minutes for his shift to be over.
The watchmen have this advantage over me, though. They know when morning has come. All through the night, they count down those minutes with anticipation and hope: 1 a.m., 3 a.m. 4:30 a.m.
Then the moment arrives. Dawn. Morning is here and their shift is over. Finished. Completed. The end.
What to do, though, when The End isn’t so clear?
Maybe the problem is the question I’ve been asking.
Maybe it shouldn’t be, “Are we there, yet?”
Maybe I should be asking, “Am I with you, Lord?”
After all, family time on vacation didn’t begin at Disney. Family time didn’t end when we pulled into our driveway at home. We choose to be together throughout the journey.
The Psalmist said he waits for the Lord. He hopes in His Word.
Not he waits for deliverance and he hopes in his army or his friends or allies.
And that time with the Lord doesn’t begin with the answered prayer. It doesn’t end with promises fulfilled.
It’s here and now, it’s past and it’s future.
This very moment, the one right here where we feel stalled and uncertain about the future, the season of waiting and in the hours when we wonder if God has finished with us and we didn’t even know it…this is all the opportunity to choose hope.
Not hope for an outcome: Hope for Him and hope for His presence.
And so we don’t wait with impatience.
We wait with anticipation of what He’s doing in this grand story, knowing that “The End” doesn’t come until we’re with Jesus, face to face, in the fullness of His glory, worshiping at His throne.