The What and Who of Meandering About

Monday, September 12, 2011

Are We There Yet?

Who among us hasn't uttered those fateful words from the back seat of the family car?

Are we there yet?

A sure sign of our boredom and impatience.

Are we there yet?

The promised destination has not yet been reached, and that is all that matters.

Are we there yet?

Finally in exasperation, the reply rings out in almost perfect unison from the front of the car, "Not yet! Will you please stop asking?! You will know when we get there!"

And in response we tune out or shut down for a little while.

Let's be honest. For most of our lives we have simply been waiting to get somewhere. When we were 6 years old, we wanted to be 10. When we were 10, we couldn't wait to be 13. When we finally turned 13, we couldn't wait until high school. High school, college. College, real world. And so the list goes on and on.

It seems as though we are always asking, "Are we there yet?"

Our internal journey and our journey of faith are really no different. We want to know where we are heading. We want to understand the reason we find ourselves in the midst of certain circumstances. We desperately long for a glimpse of the destination so that we might know that the journey will truly be worth it.

Along the way, people say "helpful" things like, "Good things come to those who wait." Or "Patience is a virtue." Or "The joy is in the journey."

These axioms may be true, but they are less than beneficial at a time like this. All we can think of is to scream in response, "But ARE WE THERE YET?!"

Becoming really stinks. Unfortunately, there is no way to expedite the process. We only truly have one way to go and that is to go.

There are plenty of stories about this in Scripture. Stories about people trying to become something or someone they thought they should be instead of the person they were to become. Read the story of Abraham or of Jacob. These stories take may different forms and shapes, but one truth seems to permeate the text. This truth is found echoed in many different ways. However, my favorite comes from the prophet Isaiah.

"But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you, I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life. Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you; I will say to the north, "Give them up," and to the south, "Do not withhold; bring my sons from far away and my daughters from the end of the earth— everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made" (Isaiah 43:1-7, NRSV).

Are we there yet? The answer is a resounding, "No!" However, in the midst of the journey we can take heart in knowing that the God who created all things walks along the way with us. This knowledge doesn't make the pain any easier to take, neither does it make the time pass any more quickly. However, it can give the traveler courage to take the next step even when the path ahead is not entirely visible.

Let us all walk with confidence because of the One who travels with us. Amen.

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