February 26th, 2010
(Excerpt from my forthcoming book, No Arrivals . . . don’t hold your breath, it could be a while:)
We are travelers crammed into a full flight and one droning interrogative statement drips from the lips of each cultural commuter. It is the international mantra of the passenger that pounds the eardrums of parents, leaders, and bus drivers all over the world. You probably asked it when you were a kid and if you have kids, they no doubt ask it now. The question in question is, “are we there yet?”
“Are we there yet” is more than just the impatient cry of young children. It is the perpetual howl of humanity. Consider the original pinnacles of God’s creativity: Adam and Eve. There they stood in the midst of true paradise. If ever an arrival point existed, it was Eden. No fear of death or injury. No worries about bills, sickness, or purpose. No traffic. No taxes. No cholesterol.
Even without clothes, Adam was created to be successful; in fact, he already was. I wouldn’t say that he was destined for greatness; that’s a post-Fall concept. No, Adam was literally the personification of God’s creative specialty; he was success! Before that fateful day that the Eden-dwellers listened, ate, and ran for cover, destiny didn’t exist. Why? Consider it: what could Adam have possibly achieved that was greater than what he already had? He personally named every animal on earth. That’s some accomplishment! He walked with the Creator daily and lived naked and unashamed with a woman literally made for him. He was subject to no sickness, no anxiety, no insecurity, no fatigue, no stress, no guilt, no threats, and no death. Concerning Adam’s existence, God said it best: “ . . . it was very good!” (Genesis 1:31 NLT)
Yet despite the perfection of Eden, Adam perked up from the backseat of the new creation and whined, “are we there yet?” Blame the serpent, blame the woman, or blame the weather—Adam revealed a trait that still saturates humankind today: the unquenchable thirst to arrive at a newer and better destination.
We were made to do more than just achieve greatness; we were designed to reflect it. Mother Teresa once said, “God has not called me to be successful. He has called me to be faithful.” Unfortunately, the Fall corrupted the process. Thus the lie persists and man still reaches for fruit that is plainly foretold not to fulfill, even to bring certain death to those whose teeth break its peel. Yet we still lust for the poisonous produce of the serpent’s lie, blindly and erroneously certain that it will satisfy. Daily, we punch our tickets out of Eden and secure a shorter lifetime in a very different world—a world in which the Creator never intended us to live.
It’s an earth where the very dust of the ground battles against our every valiant move to conquer it (Genesis 3: 17-19.) Like Eve, the things we birth and strive to accomplish are painful now and we are constantly disappointed. Even the benchmarks of success that some of us may reach in this life only serve to tweak our thirst, sending us speeding towards the next mile marker of accomplishment. Like a man lost at sea who succumbs to the seemingly insurmountable urge to drink of the infinite deep that surrounds him, with every sip of this world’s definition of success, our thirst for fulfillment only thickens. And like the fifty kids who used to ride on my big yellow church bus, the world cries out in cultural unison: “are we there yet?”
But there is no “there” because when we finally get “there,” “there” becomes “here.”
“Here” is where we must live and here is where God intends for us to find our fulfillment in Him. Are we “here” yet?