“Are we there yet?”
We all know this line, but parents feel it. We can hear the whine drawl out as a cringe moves throughout our entire body. It is amazing how children seem to be compelled to ask this question when passengers in a car…over and over again… no matter how long of a trip they are on. The Willett family has been getting a lot of use out of this line since we moved back to Arizona this last summer. In our small Montana town, the only home the boys really have known, we were never in the car more than 5 minutes. Officially the Miles City is 3.3 square miles, but it felt like everything was under a mile away. We traveled out of town often, but our daily lives included very little time in the car. Then we moved to the commuters paradise. The Phoenix metro area is known for its sprawl. Just driving from our house to the closest grocery store is an entire Miles City away, and to Levi’s preschool… well that is the length of two Miles Cities. So our kids have struggled. It isn’t just on the long road trips that we are hearing this all too familiar refrain, but every single time we get in the car… “Are we there yet?” “How much longer?” “Are we closer to home or to nana’s now?”
I get it. The in-between is no fun. We left the comfort of home and are headed to something amazing (nana’s house, dinner out, a friend’s) and we are excited. We got ourselves ready and now we are just sitting in the van… waiting. Fifteen minutes can feel like three hours to a 3 year old who is excited to see his nana. Watching and waiting and still we are not there.
Life feels like this sometimes. I want to scream “Are we there yet?!?” Friends this is what the season of Advent is all about. It is a recognition of our state of waiting. That we are watching in anticipation of what is about to come into being. It is faith that in the birth of Jesus, God did something definitive- that God broke into the mundane and introduced a promise of something amazing, and then set us on a journey to its fulfillment. We are watching and waiting, seeing glimpses of God’s vision becoming but we are not there yet.
The “not there yet” is what can be aggravating, overwhelming, exhausting, and discouraging. This world is broken, that isn’t a new reality but this brokenness is coming more into the light. To faithfully enter the season of advent is to believe that God is on the verge of something major; that we are right of the cusp of a new thing that is going to be spectacular.
God’s transformational power happens on large and small scales. It transforms the world as we speak out for those without voices and help each other in our own brokenness. It transforms our individual, intimate lives by creating relationships that shape our futures, by inspiring us to chart new courses, by giving us courage to be vulnerable, by allowing us the presence to be in the moment with our children as they giggle and play…
The liturgical color of advent in the church is a deep blue- the color of the night sky just
prior to the dawn. It is to reminds us that it often seems darkest just before the dawn breaks, that we are often most aware of the waiting when we are just about to the destination, that the the beauty and light is just over the horizon and it will be here before we know it.
Friends, I pray the next few weeks, as we draw closer to Christmas, contain moments where we embrace our anticipation— for the holiday season, for the next stage of life, for what God is about to do in our lives and this world— and I hope we settle into the waiting. I pray we hang on to the wonder of the mysteries of this season and this beautiful life. I pray we have faith that God is with us and is acting to make all things new, and I pray that we find wholeness, peace, and joy as we celebrate God breaking into the world in the birth of Christ and in the little moments of our days as well. When we find ourselves ready to add to the chorus of “Are we there yet”, I hope we smile and thank God that we have whatever is over the horizon to look forward to.
Blessings on your Advent season!