Are We There Yet?

Summertime is here. And the Great American Migration (aka summer vacation travel) is about to begin. Along with this annual Rite of Family Adventure, will come the most-often uttered phrase in human history, “Are we there yet?”

I’m sure that most of us have memories of summertime travel with family or loved ones when the hours to the intended destination seemed interminable. Whether as a parent, a child, or co-traveler, the trip always seemed to take forever. The time between leaving and arrival felt like it was “lost” and a total waste. As my own children used to exclaim, “Boooring!

But is the time between leaving and arrival truly wasted? Or, might we have it backwards? Might it be that it’s really the trip that is the important part and that the arrival is just the cherry on top?

I remember when I was a child traveling on family vacations with my parents and my sister. We lived in Texas, and let me tell you, there’s a lot of space between destinations in Texas! Miles and miles of prairie and limestone buttes were only occasionally interspersed with small towns and two-pump gas stations. And back then we had no cell phones, tablets, portable game systems, or other electronic trinkets to keep ourselves occupied. All we could do was watch as miles and miles of seemingly endless landscape crawled past our car’s windows.

My Dad, however, always attempted to keep the trips interesting. We would stop to read each roadside marker to learn some bit of history or stop just to observe a new landscape vista we’d not seen, or noticed, before. He maintained a running dialogue of unusual things to see, facts about our surroundings, or observations about life. His verbal meanderings may not have always been interesting, but at least they were distracting.

I later realized that, for him, the trip was more important than the destination. Traveling from Point A to Point B was not time wasted, but rather time to have new experiences, learn new information, and share our thoughts. For him it was the time together that mattered, not just the “prize” of the destination at the end of the road. I wish I’d come to this realization sooner. By the time I did, my Dad had passed away; I couldn’t take any more trips with him.

I sense that it might have been much the same with Jesus and his Apostles. Palestine in those days was largely barren with miles of “nothing” between towns. But as Jesus and his entourage traveled from town to town, he was teaching and sharing his Message with them along the way.

Their last journey together was to Jerusalem for the celebration of the Passover. By that time, they’d been together for three years and most of his followers had come to believe that he was the Messiah. They saw Jesus as their long-promised Deliverer who would free them from the tyranny of Rome and restore the majesty of the Kingdom of Israel. And as they approached Jerusalem on this last trip together, they kept asking, “Are we there yet?”

“Surely this is the time for you to declare yourself as the Messiah,” they said. “Look at the outpouring of support you’re getting from the people!” They were so sure that they were about to “be there” that they even started arguing over who would get to sit next to Jesus when he took the throne.

They were, of course, correct. They were about to “be there,” just not how they’d envisioned it. Jesus did declare himself to be the Messiah. And he did prove that he was their Deliverer when he rose from the tomb. What they didn’t expect was for him to be arrested, tried, and hung on a cross to die before that last wonderful event occurred.

Only upon reflection would they realize that while the culmination of Jesus’ journey was indeed glorious, it had been their journey with him over the previous three years that had been their real treasure.

For three years, he had lived with them, taught them, eaten with them, and slept beside them. For three years, they’d had an experience that was absolutely unique in the history of the universe. They had been living with the King!

Jesus had told them again and again, “enjoy me while you still have me.” He tried to tell them what he was about and what was going to happen, but they wouldn’t listen. They were so fixated on their own ideas about what the end of the journey would be like that they failed to pay attention duringthe journey. They’d enjoyed the most precious gift mankind had ever received, spending time with Jesus in the flesh, and didn’t realize it until it was too late. They’d missed the true value of the journey.

We too run this risk. Just as I didn’t appreciate my Dad’s stories and musings when we were on those long trips in Texas, we all can miss the opportunities that Jesus gives us to know him during our own journeys, before we get to be with him in Heaven.

Heaven is going to be glorious. But so is our trip to get there. God’s gifts while we are on our own journeys are indeed bountiful: family, friends, the magnificence of nature, and God’s presence to guide, comfort, and instruct us as we travel.

Let’s not make the mistake that I made when I could have lived in the experience of travel with my Dad. And, let’s not make the mistake that the Apostles made when they were journeying with Jesus. Let’s appreciate the journey we’re each on by taking advantage of the wonders that God bestows upon us every day. And as we do, we can still look forward to the time we’ll each say, “Yes, we have arrived!”

Richard Collinsworth blogs at Exploring Christianity.

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  1. Richard, this is such a wonderful reminder that life’s journey can be an amazing adventure with our Lord if we just determine to make it so. This message made me think of the weeks and weeks my family spent waiting and watching as my mother lay unresponsive, not really living but not dead either. I prayed to Hod to be merciful and release her from crippled body. I couldn’t understand why she had to go on in this condition. One day, as I stood at her bedside, God revealed to me that He had my mother, but these days spent together with siblings and my father made for priceless time and memories we would share as mother completed her journey. I’m thankful so very often of the knowledge God gave me, and I shared it with my family. We never took another day together for granted but loved each other and our Heavenly Father completely. That was a tremendous gift God gave us as we lived in wonderment along this final trip my mother made. We didn’t Know, at the time, that, six months later we would travel a similar journey with my dad. Again, we have treasured memories of that journey, too.
    Thanks for reminding me of those incredible times.

  2. Susan Mincey says

    What wonderful memories of traveling with your Dad and thinking of the disciples who were privileged to travel with Jesus. We humans don’t realize the value of something we have all the time until we lose it. Thank our Precious Lord God in heaven that we didn’t lose Jesus! We FOUND HIM! Praise Him for His Resurrection to Life Eternal and for Providing it for us to enjoy with Him at our appointed time! Glory! Happy Father’s Day!

  3. Cheri Wallace says

    Richard, this reminded me of our family vacations in Texas as well. It reminded me that the journey with my parents was a true gift . A gift to be cherished every step of the way. I miss them so very much but I still have what they taught me in my heart. I hope that I can always be thankful for my journey with God and appreciate all the blessings he bestows on me every single day.

  4. Scribe James says

    What a wonderful trip you took us on Richard, thank you for the memories. I’m most thankful that Jesus is the driver in my life now and that the “are we there yet” is all wrapped up in the journey He is taking me on. I may not be there yet, but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, I’m reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of “getting there”, it’s the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

    • Friend Scribe —
      Thanks for reading, and for your comments. They are always welcomed and most insightful. Each day we are closer to being able to say, “Yes! We are Here!”

  5. Andi Mitchell says

    Richard, your blog is outstanding! You took all of us on the journey with you. For me it also brings up, “If only I’d…” I am so humbled by the life and sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, and so grateful for people like you who express yourself so well and speak for all of us.

  6. Once again, Richard, you have taken the every day and reminded us how spiritual it can be . It IS the journey, , and the delights and blessings and the hope of eventually “being there” .