Summer is here. Graduations are done. Kids are home. Vacations and travel lie ahead.
Summer is one of God’s delightful gifts to his children. I think of it as God’s way of saying, “Everything will be OK, so just slow down for a bit and enjoy my world. Take it all in: taste it, smell it, savor it.”
For my family, summer has always been a time for travel. Each summer we’d hook up the trailer and hit the road. Each year meant a new adventure filled with new sights to see.
Some years our journey took us only a few hundred miles; other years we traveled coast to coast. As parents, it didn’t take us long to learn that children are not particularly patient travelers: “How much longer?”
“When are we going to get there?”
“Are we there yet?”
These questions are inborn. No one has to teach them to children; they just pop out like dandelions in the spring. Simply buckle a child in the backseat of a car, drive for 10 minutes, and listen.
After thousands of hours crisscrossing North America with four children, I learned a simple reply to their ongoing nagging: “About an hour.” It didn’t matter if we were six hours or six minutes from our destination, my answer remained the same. It didn’t take long for even the youngest to learn that neither nagging nor complaining would speed things up or relieve the tedium. In time they discovered we’d get there sooner or later, and in the meantime they could enjoy the ride.
And as parents we discovered that on long journeys we needed to plan intermediate destinations on our way to the final objective. On a trip from Los Angeles to Michigan, that might mean stopping at the Grand Canyon, Rehoboth, Four Corners, Mesa Verde, or some other point of interest. These interludes allowed us all to relax a bit and see part of the world we otherwise would have missed in our hurry to see Grandma and Grandpa.
So, too, it is in the journey of the church. We are people in a hurry. We have little patience for the journey. There is so much to do, so many people who need our help and attention, so many projects to complete. God’s kingdom is coming, and we need to work. In our desire to see heaven on earth, we spend the entire journey asking, “Are we there yet?” In the process we miss the joy of the ride.
Each time we start nagging, God turns to us and patiently says, “About an hour.” Then he leads us to some interesting intermediate destination.
One of those interludes in my journey was the 150th anniversary worship service held in Grand Rapids, Mich., during Synod 2007. Almost 13,000 people gathered to see what God has done and is doing in his church. Incredible music was combined with inspirational preaching and liturgy to create a glimpse of heaven itself. What could have been a self-aggrandizing event served to help one small part of God’s church humbly celebrate God’s goodness and grace.
Patience is the fruit of the Spirit that often seems the last to ripen in our lives. God knows how difficult it is for his children to be patient, so in his love and understanding he provides not only interludes of celebration but also times of Sabbath and rest. For many of us, summer is one such time. I encourage you to slow down and savor God’s creation and his grace. To taste and touch God’s beautiful world and bask in the joy of his love.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven” (Eccles. 3:1). Don’t worry, we’ll get there—in about an hour. n