Are we there yet?

Written by Kevin P. Gilmore
From the Director

from-the-director-03-22_article.jpgThe mind of any parent immediately jumps to one or more occasions, perhaps even this past week, where these words plaintively sounded from the back seat of the family vehicle.

What is it that you, child of God, have felt uncertainty about and gone to the Father saying, “Are we there yet?”

I admire people who seem to have their paths clearly mapped out, but I approached my junior year in college without a declared major and feeling lost about what to do. Fortunately, wise counsel by a caring Nazarene professor helped me decide on a major course of study. When graduation was nearing and I had no job prospects lined up, I anxiously asked God “Are we there yet?” It’s ironic we exasperate ourselves (not God) by asking that question over and over again, only to look back on our life journey, from time to time, and see how God was at work faithfully providing for each step—even when we took it in fear and anxiety.

What is it that you, child of God, have felt uncertainty about?

As a child, when I traveled with my earthly father, I rested in the confidence he knew where we were going and how long it would take to get there. I now recognize his efforts at explaining this to me and my brothers was futile and beyond our capacity to understand, mostly because we had no reasonable concept of time and very little patience. Likewise, in our faith journey, our concept of time is not the same as God’s.

I love the preaching of my friend, Dr. Jim Diehl (general superintendent emeritus). I remember him saying how God provides us a lantern which sheds just enough light for the next step of our journey, but we never see the entire path because we couldn’t handle it. We might get so focused on the challenges coming our way in the distant future we fail to take care of the present, which is what God has called us to do today. We know Who holds the future, and we know He holds our hand, so we depend on Him for the entirety of our journey. I love that word picture and think of it often.

There is a scene in the faith-based movie Facing the Giants that provides a great illustration. The football team has a long losing record, no hope of getting better, and a head coach on thin ice, but God gives the coach a vision of the possible and a message that He doesn’t want them to give up. During practice, the coach asks one of the team leaders to wear a blindfold, and prepare to do what he calls the “death crawl,” using only his hands and feet (no knees or elbows) to crawl 100 yards from one goal line to the other while carrying a teammate on his back.

All this kid can see is an impossible task in front of him. As he makes a little progress, he cries out saying things like “Where am I, how much further, am I there yet?” The coach responds the same way each time, telling him he’s almost there, just a little further, you can do this, don’t give up! This dialogue happens several times, until the player collapses and can go no further. The coach tells him to take off his blindfold and look up, because he has just crossed the opposing goal line and accomplished what he thought was impossible.

You see, the coach needed this player to be an example to his teammates. They each had the ability to do far more than they thought possible—and their coach was there to supply them with direction, encouragement, and support for the journey.

The truth of this illustration is, that with God’s help and direction, we can all do things beyond what we consider possible within our own human capacity. The key is focusing on the tasks in front of us, one step at a time, and leaving the future in His hands. Then, one day, when we ask the inevitable “Are we there yet?” for the final time, we’ll hear the gracious response of our loving Savior: “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

Kevin P. Gilmore is executive director of Pensions and Benefits USA for the Church of the Nazarene.