Updated on July 18, 2017
Because, No. We are not there yet.
“Are we there yet?” The most famous question of the summer. My kids ask this on a 5 minute drive to Target; so you can imagine a road trip in our car. And usually I begin the trip by kindly answering their questions, giving them a sign to look for, or at least being pleasant. But by the end? Pleasant gets thrown right out the window. Does it look like we are there? We are still on the highway, the car has not stopped; so therefore WE ARE NOT THERE YET! Yeah. Mom of the Year, right here.
And I get it. They are excited, eager and ready to see where we are headed. They want to know the lay of the land. Who will sleep where? What will we eat? What will it look like? How early can we get up? Oh, and are we there yet?
It is normal, natural even endearing, sometimes, how excited they are about adventures, trips, Target runs. But my patience has a limit and my ability to answer their never ending barrage of questions eventually hits a wall.
During a recent trip this summer, we took our boys on an airplane for the first time. They were fascinated. Not only did they want to know if we were there yet, they wanted to know: How does the plane work? What are all those noises? What are those people doing? What state are we flying over? How fast are we going? And oh yeah, what are we having for breakfast tomorrow at our friend’s house?
My head spun.
Just be, I kept saying. Just sit tight and enjoy the ride a bit. I am not going to leave you and I will help you make sense of all this newness, I promise.
But still they struggled. Their brains produced more questions and they squirmed in their seats. There was so much they needed to know.
Are we there yet?
And if I am being honest, their behavior holds a mirror right up to my own soul. They come by their question asking and their need to know what lies ahead honestly.
Maybe you, too? It always happens for me as a new season approaches. And believe it or not, a new school year sits on the horizon for us here in the southern suburbs. So I find myself needing to know how it’s all going to go. The questions persist.
Where are we headed, Lord? How will this year unfold? Are we where you want us to be? How will we know?
Are we there yet? Are we at the place where it will all just go well?
I can pester the Lord of heaven and earth with the best of them. And perhaps he has the urge to shush me; to bury his head in some heavenly cloud and ignore my need for so many words. I mean, I do it to my own children. Isn’t that how God reacts to me and my constant neediness? It appears that even my questions have questions …
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find, knock and the door will be open to you” (Matthew 7:7).
I always hear this verse in the form of an old camp song. Ask. Seek. Knock. The words sink into my heart after a particularly long summer day. I hang my head in defeat of all that swirls around me. Ask. Seek. Knock. And these words of Jesus strung together in that old camp song tune just won’t leave me alone.
What if he means it?
What if I could just lean in and let all the questions fall at the feet of my Savior? What if it didn’t matter if the crazy and the heart-rending unknowns bumped against each other as they tumbled out of my mouth? Ask. Seek. Knock.
Lord, are you in this? Where are we headed? Why can’t I get a grip? Do you see my kids, their future? What about this day and its craziness? Can you even hear me? Ask. Seek. Knock.
Slowly, I begin to surrender my questions.
And no, answers do not magically appear written in the heavens. Doors don’t swing wide with miraculous findings behind them and life does not immediately become perfect. In fact, the day simply presses on; boys argue over cul de sac baseball games, juice spills, a kid breaks his finger, the toilet overflows, dinner burns. But.
I keep asking, seeking, knocking. I resist the urge to picture God as a frustrated father annoyed with the questions of his children. “I Am God and not man. The Holy One among you” (Hosea 11:9). I begin to try and take him at his word here.
And then I remember these last words of Jesus, ones that Eugene Peterson reframes so beautifully in The Message, “I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”
Maybe questions aren’t your thing or maybe you have a storehouse full of them. But here’s what I am learning, slowly. It isn’t really answers we need. It’s this. God, with us. We need to know that we are not alone.
Day after day after day. Season after season. Question after question after question. Immanuel, God with us. With us in the beautiful and the easy as much as in the questions and the unknown pathways. He whispers it into my neediness.
I am right here. I will not leave you. Just sit tight and enjoy the journey for a bit. I will help you make sense of the newness.
Because, No. We are not there yet; not even close.
But. He is here. And that changes everything.
“For this is what the Lord says … Do not fear for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you …for I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:1-3).