By: Dennis Bates
Any father who has taken a family vacation with his children has heard the following question: “Are we there yet, Daddy?” Any child who has asked that question knows the answer: “Not yet, but soon, very soon.”
I think there may be a requirement that a child ask that question and get that answer a minimum of 100 times before they can be considered an adult. It’s just one of those rules that isn’t written down anywhere, but we all know it’s there somewhere.
The earliest followers of Jesus asked the same basic question. They had been told that Jesus would come back and many of them kept asking, “Is He here yet, Daddy?” Many still ask that; elaborate systems and entire theologies have been built around the answers to that question. Many build their systems based on the Great Tribulation described in the book of Revelation. The essence of the tribulation itself is fraught with controversy, and yet there are the pre, the mid and the post tribulation advocates who claim to have irrefutable proof they have the correct interpretation.
I heard one person say with some degree of seriousness that he was, in fact, a pan tribulation believer because whatever panned out was fine with him. Tongue in cheek as that comment is, it is probably the most accurate of any. The New Testament tells us repeatedly that no one knows the time or place of the second coming. (See Matthew 24:42 for just one example.)
So why do we keep asking? What makes us need to try to figure out something we are told we can never figure out?
I think it may be a basic misunderstanding of what the journey is all about.
As kids, we always vacationed by car. We never flew, never took the train and never rode a bus. Part of that was because of economics. Simply stated, it was cheaper for a family of five to travel in one vehicle, stay in one motel room and pass up all the good places to eat that my father seemed to pass. He never missed a Dairy Queen, however, or a chance to have a chocolate malt.
Another reason we traveled by car was to see the places this country has to offer. We saw both the usual and the unusual. We drove through almost every state and by most of the state capitol buildings. We also drove by all the Major League baseball stadiums that were even close to our itinerary. Many aren’t there anymore, but back in the day we saw them all from Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis to the House that Ruth built in the Bronx.
For my parents, the journey itself was part of the final destination. We didn’t go to New York City just to see New York City; we went to new York City as an excuse to see everything between Iowa and New York City, including the City itself.
For me, that’s the real message of eternal life. Eternal life isn’t the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or the City where Yankee Stadium is; it’s everything from the time we are born through and including our final destination…Heaven. If we look at eternal life as only that point in time somewhere in the future when we finally get to Heaven, we miss this part of eternity, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to miss a second of it.
So don’t keep asking are we there yet; ask instead what part of there are we living in right now.