Perhaps every parent has heard this before, much the same way many of us in my generation know the sounds of fingernails on the chalkboard. “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” The melodically whiny, if not annoying, chant of our kids on a road trip of virtually any distance is enough to have us parents running longingly to any nearby chalkboard to apply our fingernails. Literally anything is preferable to, “are we there yet?” No doubt we’ve ALL heard it, and alas, no doubt we’ve ALL said it.
Yet as annoying and frustrating and wit-ending as it might be, could anything be more accurately descriptive of how we approach God in His providential direction of our lives? Let me speak only as to myself. If I’ve asked once, I’ve asked a thousand times to God, particularly in this past season over the last year or so, “are we there yet???” You see, there are many times when we know God is at work in or through a season in our lives that we impatiently beseech Him to hasten whatever destination to which He is leading us. It could come during times of expected rescue from a distressing situation or the hoped-for arrival at a place or outcome He allows to be on our hearts. Regardless, we whine, “are we there yet???” Or at least, I do.
The thing is, just like in those times of the road trips of our youth or our kids’ youth, God is always leading and driving us to a destination. But our timeline isn’t His timeline and He always has purposes in the journey as much as the destination. So how do we temper our eagerness, and rely on the trustworthiness of the Lord? I guess, it’s sort of like Mater from the Cars franchise of movies. In one segment of the original movie, Mater excitedly and recklessly drives in reverse much to his own enjoyment and Lightning McQueen’s incredulity. After he completes his white-knuckle jaunt, he proclaims some applicable truth for you and me … “Ain’t no need to watch where I’m goin’; just need to know where I’ve been.”
But in view of the fact that Mater was neither priest nor prophet, neither apostle nor disciple, perhaps we can grapple with some superior wisdom, yet similar application, through the Biblical texts. And when it comes to the, “are we there yet?” question, I think Abraham and Sarah can teach us quite a bit. Genesis 12:1-4…
The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” So Abram departed as the Lord had instructed, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran.
There isn’t necessarily evidence that Abram knew God prior to this time. This is essentially the first we hear of him after the genealogy of Abram’s father Terah in the prior chapter. But the Lord speaks to Abram and says to him, “take off and go to a land that I will show you later.” Not only that, but he promises Abram to make him into a nation. But there was a problem … for Abram and Sarai to become a nation it was probably a good first step for them to perhaps start with a child. But they were unable to have one. And worse yet, they were old. If anyone in history was in a position to wonder, “are we there yet,” it was going to be Abram and Sarai. And yet, what did they do when told to go? They went. But wait, there’s more … Genesis 15:1-6…
Some time later, the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, “Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.” But Abram replied, “O Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son? Since you’ve given me no children, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth. You have given me no descendants of my own, so one of my servants will be my heir.” Then the Lord said to him, “No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.” Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.
Now Abram made his way to the land God promised him, but this is now “some time later,” and Abram was yet to see the fruition of becoming a “great nation.” He and Sarai didn’t even have a single child, let alone a nation. But despite the passage of a long time, Abram did not say, “are we there yet?” He kept going and kept trusting. It wasn’t until Abram (after he was renamed Abraham and Sarai was renamed Sarah) was 100 years old that Sarah gave birth to Isaac, who was the fulfillment of God’s covenant promise to make Abraham into a “great nation.”
For those of you keeping score, Abraham waited 25 years for God to fulfill His promise to Abraham. 25 years!!! I don’t want to even think about how many times I would ask, “are we there yet?” if I had to wait for 25 years. And unlike you and me, Abraham and Sarah didn’t have the Word of God to draw upon to see historic accounts of God’s faithfulness and miraculous delivery of His providence. But … we do!!!
And this is where the Mater comment comes in. “Ain’t no need to watch where I’m goin’; just need to know where I’ve been.”
That is, if you want to be confident in God’s faithfulness in the future, remind yourself of God’s faithfulness in the past. Isn’t that in fact what the Bible is all about? God tells us what He’s going to do, and then He does it. Then we can attest to His faithfulness in advance, never having to ask ourselves, “are we there yet?” Because we have the certainty that He will get us there, in time.
The past year and a half of Helen and my life, we have had a clear sense of God bringing us somewhere. In fact, in some ways, it feels like the culmination of many years of expectation God has allowed us to have about a journeying “to a land that I will show you.” Along the way, I have had countless, “are we there yet?” moments. The wait, and the resulting disappointment from time to time of the wait, has admittedly been challenging. My faithfulness has lacked, many times. But God’s faithfulness has NEVER diminished. It hasn’t been 25 years, to be sure, but we stand at the precipice of what appears to be Him fulfilling his purpose in this season. Of course, it’s possible that He isn’t just yet. But another aspect of this period He is bringing us through is that I have frequently reflected on His loving faithfulness throughout my life, even during times when I wasn’t following Him. Along the way, He has reminded me that I can rely on His faithfulness in the future because of His faithfulness in the past.
And such is true for you. I don’t know what you’re going through, what is making you wonder, “are we there yet?” But what I do know is that God will be faithful in delivering you to a destination that brings Him maximum glory and you maximum blessing, in time. If you are struggling to be faithful in this season, think back on how He has been faithful to you in the past.
“Ain’t no need to watch where I’m goin’; just need to know where I’ve been.”
Soli Deo gloria!