Our kids were always pretty good travelers growing up, occupying themselves and not getting too fussy. But they had their moments. I still have a clear memory of one Saturday, way back when they were like 6-months & 3. We lived in a small town in Kansas at the time, which meant that a trip to the mall took about an hour. That’s no small feat with a newborn & a 3-year-old!
I don’t remember why it was necessary to head to the big city of Topeka that day, but I do remember strapping the kids into their car seats in our silver 1996 Pontiac Transport, getting the kid-music playing through the back speakers, and making sure everybody had snacks and something to drink before we hit the road. This wasn’t our first rodeo. We were prepared. I slowly backed the van out of the garage and down the driveway, then drove around the corner and down the hill to the main road that would lead us to the highway, and eventually, the mall. As we pulled up to the stop sign, a 3-year-old voice from the back seat uttered the infamous question, “Are we there yet?”
We had literally gone less than 2 blocks!
Our kids are in their 20s now, so they don’t ask that question much anymore, but any parent who has driven their small child in a vehicle for more than 5 minutes has heard it. It’s a cry of boredom, of frustration, of impatience, of ignorance… And I think it comes down to a lack of faith.
As a young father I came to the realization that, for our kids, a trip to the mall was an exercise in faith. I knew where I was going. I knew I had a reliable vehicle to get there. I had a plan – I knew the route and the schedule. I knew how to drive safely and get to where we were going… But all my 3-year-old knew was that it was already way too long to be strapped in a car seat! She didn’t have much of an understanding that Dad knew what he was doing and everything would work out fine if she could just wait a little while.
Maybe you can relate. As we slog through month after month of the Covid-19 pandemic, or as we face other difficult things in life, we’re tempted to yell out to God, “Are we there yet!?”
Do you believe that God can be trusted? Do you think He has the resources to carry you through whatever you face in life? Do you think He might have a plan and He knows what He’s doing? It’s tempting to forget all of that when we don’t understand what’s going on. Just like a kid in a car seat, the road gets long, and frustrating, and uncomfortable, and we get impatient. Aren’t we there yet?!
But into that frustration come the words of King David in Psalm 37…
Psalm 37:34a NLT “Don’t be impatient for the Lord to act! Travel steadily along his path. He will honor you, giving you the land…”
The people of Israel felt like God was letting the wicked people get by with things while they, God’s chosen people, couldn’t catch a break. But the Psalmist told them to hang in there. God had a plan.
Most of the time, God’s plans take a while. Just because things take longer than we want them to, doesn’t mean God’s plans have failed. And just because it’s urgent to me doesn’t mean it’s truly urgent from God’s perspective. We have to trust His timing. Good things can actually happen as we wait. We develop and grow in the waiting.
In fact, I heard Pastor Scott Sauls put it this way: “The times that we wait are the times that God forms us the most.”
I don’t want to wait, but I want to be formed by God. So I’ll “travel steadily along His path.”
Do you know what our number one strategy was in the car to keep the kids from causing a ruckus? No, it wasn’t cough syrup! It was distraction. For us, that meant music, books, activity pages, and screens, screens, and more screens! And maybe a Happy Meal toy.
But I don’t think that’s the way God wants us to walk through life. His desire for us is not to just distract ourselves as we wait for our heavenly destination, but to be involved in bringing about His kingdom in the world.
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Are we there yet? No, not yet. It still might be awhile, actually. So trust that your Creator has a plan. He knows what He’s doing. And be available for Him to use you as you wait!