"Are We There Yet?"
I grew up in an era long before GPS. When our family was to take a road trip of any length, you’d find me in the middle bench seat of our red Dodge Caravan with an open road atlas on my lap. As a 10 or 11-year-old, I would take the opportunity of many hours in the car to study the various maps of the Continental United States. I learned quite a bit on those long trips about the US Interstate System. I noticed how north-south routes were signified by odd numbers and the east-west highways bore even numbers. When looking at the larger map of the lower forty-eight states, I saw how the numbers of interstate highways increased as you moved north- and east-ward. And I learned how the mile markers on the side of the road were counting up and counting down depending on which direction you were heading. This was not just arbitrary information to know. I had a practical reason for my exploration. In between the imaginary trips through states I had never visited, I’d occasionally flip back to see where we were at and how much longer it would be until our destination or the next stop. Call it a better way for kid to know the answer to that age-old, road trip question: “Are we there yet?”
If only life were as organized as a road atlas. Sometimes there is no way of telling where we are, how long it will be until we are there, and even where “there” is exactly.
The short story of the last month of our journey is that we came razor close to having no place to move to...and at the eleventh hour to boot. We’ve never been lucky in real estate, but this might have been game-changing. Our patience and endurance were tested. Many desperate prayers were offered. And yet, surprisingly, peace abounded in our hearts.
The good news is that we found ourselves resolute in our future plans even in the face of potential setbacks. And we may have weathered the current storm and expect our initial plans to work out smoothly in the next few days just in time to move at the end of this month.
A mentor in church planting shared a bit of wisdom with me the other day. He said that what we’ve experienced as of late is common. He didn’t mean that every person setting out to plant a church has almost lost major money in a real estate deal gone sour. He meant that many, if not most, face difficulty in an area they are most vulnerable or an attack on what they hold most dear. For some planters it’s been their health or family; others may have experienced trial in lost relationships. So I’ve had to consider the possibility that I may be overly concerned with financial security or the practicalities of “where’s,” and “how’s.”
When I realize this temptation, I’m reminded of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. After teaching his disciples how to pray—a lesson in dependence in itself—Jesus directs their attention to the birds and the flowers: “See how they don’t worry or work overtime, and yet they are well taken care of. That’s how God wants to take care of you" (my paraphrase of Matthew 6:26-32).
How can we learn this type of dependence? First of all, we must know there is no road map. Secondly, shortcuts only shortchange our journey. And third, we must trust that the road will lead where we need to go in the time we need to get there. The Lord is good and He is worth our faith in him. And in the mean time, let us learn to pray and enjoy the ride.