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Are We There Yet?

Posted: 6/19/20 at 12:45pm. Column by Ed Jordan.

If you have ever traveled with children on a lengthy trip, you have heard the question: “Are we there yet?” The question starts early on and gets repeated often. It doesn’t help that the kids are belted in the back seat, with limited movement, and are often too short to look out the window.

Some of you were smiling as you read that, having experienced it. It’s a straightforward question without a satisfactory answer until the journey is complete. Yet it plays like a scratched LP record, skipping to the same line over and over. But is “Are we there yet?” just an impatient childish question? Or is it the right question which needs redefining?

Most of us have been belted into the back seat of life for the last four months, not knowing how long the trip will be, and not being able to see where we are going. In our journey called life, we want to know what the goal is, and to feel we are making progress toward it. But where is “there?”

Right now I am not referring to our final destination, although there will be one for each of us. Right now I mean the more illusory goals along the journey, like the “there” where faith replaces fear, or the “there” where trust overcomes anxiety. How do we know we have arrived at such illusory goals?

In this COVID-19 journey, we have already reached many goals. But it’s been like playing football with the goal line constantly being moved farther away. We’ve learned how to wash our hands, to social distance, to wear masks and gloves, to stay home, to learn and work at home, and to keep our hospitals from overflowing. Done. But we never seem to be able to score. It’s frustrating, because we all have a need to understand what the goal is and to know it is achievable.

Most of us have been belted into the back seat of life for the last four months, not knowing how long the trip will be, and not being able to see where we are going. In our journey called life, we want to know what the goal is, and to feel we are making progress toward it. But where is “there?”

But let’s be careful not to fool ourselves into thinking we can achieve an impossible goal: keeping everyone safe at all times. Is that a realistic goal? No. Let’s get real: it is beyond our power to keep everyone safe, all the time.

Then where is the safest place to be? In the arms of God, and in the center of God’s will. The truth is that every one of us will die. And yes, even faithful believers have fatal accidents and get sick, so I am not advocating being ignorant or reckless.

But I am saying that being safe is not synonymous with never dying or not getting sick. Being always safe is only experienced by living in the presence and protective care of Jesus. Jesus, who was God himself, physically died, but then broke the power of death and walked out of the grave, alive forevermore. Jesus did this so that we might be set free from death and be free from the fear of death.

Reflect on these words of Jesus: “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”” (John 11:25–26, CSB).

When we place our lives into Jesus’ hands, and invite him to come live within us, eternal life enters us, and we arrive at the goal of being safe in him. When we are in God’s hands, we are safe forevermore, even in sickness, even in death. He guides the believer though all the changing goalposts of life, to bring us across the finish line into the undiluted presence of God.

If “there” is the assurance that we will be forever safe, it is only possible as we receive eternal Jesus into our being, for he frees us from fear. Fear is an enslaver, clamping down chains labeled Judgment, Guilt, Pain, or The Unknown. But when we enter into relationship with Jesus, he breaks all those chains. They fall to the ground, but we must be careful not to pick them up again.

Are we there yet? If “there” is the state of being free from fear, believers are there. If it is knowing nothing will ultimately defeat you, in Jesus you are there. If it is not worrying about things beyond your control, in Jesus you are there. If “there” is being at peace when facing death, in Jesus you are there. Have you entrusted your whole life to Jesus? Does he live within you, and do you live in his presence? Then you are there!

Are you there yet?

ed-jordan2Award-winning columnist Dr. Ed Jordan is pastor of Gwynn’s Island Baptist Church, Gwynn, VA. You may also read his past columns.

He can be reached at szent.edward@gmail.com.