Thursday, October 4, 2012

Day 4—Are We There Yet?

            Don't you long for the day when you have "arrived"?  You know, made it.  The world is now yours, and you do not have to think as hard or work as much or have as many problems.  Even if you are not "there" yet, you can definitely name some people who are "there," right?  Haven't you heard someone allude to someone else by saying: "Now, he's made it," or "She has arrived." 

Tell me when I get there.
            Sadly, such a state of being does not truly exist, yet we sure feel like it does sometimes.  Think about trekking up a mountain.  Sometimes the slope is gentle and inviting.  Sometimes the slope is treacherous and painstakingly difficult.  Sometimes you want to give up completely, but for some reason you don't.  Then, almost magically, as you gaze ahead, you see the sky—not sky with more mountain obscuring part of the expanse, but clear, unobstructed, blue sky.  You know you are almost there.  Maybe you even quicken the pace and almost ignore your slightly twisted ankle because you know you are almost there.  Suddenly, you break through.  You are on top of the mountain!  Oh, glorious day!  Absolutely breathtaking, the view begs you to soak it in.  Such joy.  Such peace.  Such success.  You have "arrived."  Relish the moment before reality sets in.  The expectation that we can make one tremendous achievement and soar on that accomplishment for the rest of our lives touches families and causes a spirit of discontent and resentment.

            Discontent and resentment, you say?  Yep.  Go back to your mountain top.  What are you going to do now?  Maybe you brought a tent and backpack with a week's worth of food, but eventually you are going to have to leave that summit.  The only way to go is down.  Maybe you can live with that.  Maybe the memory of that feat will continue to fulfill you.  However, when you get to the valley at base of that mountain, standing in your way is another mountain, one you cannot avoid or go around.  Maybe you don't want to climb it, but you do not have a choice.

            The world around us deceives itself about this fact on a continual basis.  News story after news story features people have "made it," "reached the pinnacle of their career," or "have impacted mankind in a way that will last for years to come."  At the same time, movie stars, singers, politicians, and even heroes eventually fade into the background, no matter how glorious their years of fame or how long they lasted.

            For example, Lucille Ball has been and continues to be respected as one of the most innovating, creative, and influential women in comedy or television.  In fact, an ABC Special a few days before the Emmy awards this year declared the I Love Lucy show as the best and most watched comedy show of all time.  It is still watched somewhere around the world today.  Lucille Ball went on to have a handful of successful television series.  Eventually, they all came to end.  When asked what she thought about it and if she was glad to finally have break, Lucille Ball basically said it was awful.  The end was one of the worst things that had happened to her—what was she to do with her life now.  She just did not realize that she had been going up and down little peaks at the top of the range, and now she was completely at the bottom of one mountain facing another mountain with no choice but to climb it.

            This is not just true for people in the entertainment industry.  Consider motherhood, when you finally figure out what you are doing, the kids are all grown.  Then you have to deal with an empty nest and where you go from there.  Once you really get into and enjoy your new independent life, old age hits and changes the game plan again.  It never ends.

            What mountain are you on?  Are you at the top?  Are you on your way down—or up?  Are you immobilized at the bottom as you face the daunting mountain in front of you?  Did you realize it when you were at a pinnacle?  Unfortunately, in an attempt to be "realists" and face the reality of life's struggles, some people miss the opportunity to appreciate the beauty and exhilaration of being at the peak.  Even when you are not at the highest point, the scenery can be enchanting and invigorating.  Satisfaction does not come only when you have succeeded in your current struggle, nor is it only in the journey.  Contentment can be found everywhere.

            What does the Bible have to say?  I do not know of any verses directed toward knowing when you have "arrived," but it does have something (actually a lot) to say about the journey.

            Jeremiah 29:11—"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

            God knows the mountains you will climb and the struggles you will have while ascending and descending.  He wants goods things for you.  You are not alone.  With a desire to make you prosper, He has made plans for you personally.  As you continue to read, you will see an expectation for you to participate in the process.

            Jeremiah 29:12-14a—"'Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,' declares the Lord …"

            The primary goal for God's plans is not to give you an easy life on this earth—it's a personal relationship with you.  When you seek (and find) Him in your journey, it will not matter where you are on your trek; you will have contentment and fulfillment.

            Psalm 71:2-3, 24—"Rescue me and deliver me in your righteousness; turn your ear to me and save me.  Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress … My tongue will tell of your righteous acts all day long, for those who wanted to harm me have been put to shame and confusion."

            Now, David (as in David and Goliath or King David of the Jews) had more mountains than I would ever want to climb.  God refers to David as having a heart for God.  If anyone could say he had "made it," it would have been David.  After he killed Goliath with one bullet-impacting rock to the forehead, he was a hero.  He saved the lives of hundreds of soldiers and spared his people from the harassment of the Philistines.  Then he became the only musician in King Saul's court that could calm the king with his playing music.  You would think he had it made, but he didn't.  He ended up in many battles of war, had a price put on his head for no wrong doing of his own, later had one of his sons try to crown himself king, and the list goes on.

            He seemed to go from mountain top to valley to mountain top to the slimy swamp at the bottom of the valley, to … you get the picture.  Remarkably, King David did not waver in his trust of God.  No matter where on the mountain he was, he kept his eye on the ultimate goal—a personal relationship with God himself.

            If you are still reading, you have not abandoned me despite the length of today's entry.  Thank you!!  Now, to your kids.  On one hand, this can be difficult to bring up to your kids; on the other hand, you probably won't need to do so.  They will bring it up.  For today's scenario, let us use a pre-teen boy discussing his favorite actor.  I will refrain from using a real actor's name: first, to give me more freedom in my imagination and, second, to avoid calling a specific actor a "has been."

Son:  Mom, you won't believe it!  Clyde Green won best actor.  I knew he would.  That's what I told you, isn't it?

Mom:  Yes, you did.  Good job in predicting that one.

Son:  It wasn't hard.  He is the best actor of all time.  I love the way runs and jumps and nobody can out fight him.  I want to be like him.

Mom:  The characters he plays are pretty amazing.

Son:  I don't know what the characters would have been like with someone else, but with Clyde Green playing them, they become awesome because he is awesome.  Nobody will ever be able to outdo him.

Mom:  Not for the moment anyway.

Son:  What do you mean?

Mom:  At some point, someone will outdo him.  For now, he stands out as being special.

Son:  Are you crazy?  How can anyone outdo him?

Mom:  There have been a lot of popular male actors, and each had some fans that thought they would always be on top:  John Wayne, Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, Jimmy Stewart, and Henry Fonda, to name a few.  The point is they had their time, and then it was someone else's time.  Even Clyde Green has to start all over.

Son:  Start all over?

Mom:  In a way.  The award he got tonight is wonderful recognition and may open new opportunities for him, but the movie that got him the award is over.  Essentially he is out of work and needs a job, which he will probably get without too much trouble—for now.  He might repeat this process several times, but somewhere along the way, he will not get an award, he won't even be nominated, and he will have trouble getting an acting job.  That's just the cycle of things.  Then he will have new challenges to overcome.  In a way, the same thing will happen to you.

Son:  What?  I'm not going to be an actor.

Mom:  I don't mean that part; I mean the ups and downs in life.  You don't remember it, but learning to walk was hard work and you fell down often.  Do you fall down much now when you are walking—and not goofing around?

Son:  No.

Mom:  Right.  You overcame that obstacle, but then you had a new one—potty training.

Son:  Mom!

Mom:  Then it was tying your shoes, followed by learning to ride a bike, and then learning to read.  Each step was hard for you, sometimes really hard, but you accomplished each one.  Since you conquered all of those things, do you think you are done having to learn or to adjust to something new.

Son:  I don't know.

Mom:  Well, you're not done.  You will never be done until you see Jesus face-to-face, but even then I'm not making any promises.  The Bible is not all that clear to me as to what happens in the far future, but no matter what: We are in God's hands.  Nothing is going to happen that he can't get us through.  As for Clyde Green, tonight is a big night for him.  He should enjoy it.  Yet, it's only for now.  Tomorrow he will have to figure out what happens next.

            Your Turn:  Be ready for when this conversation arises.  If it doesn't arise soon, you can find a conversation starter in nearly any current events magazine or news cast.  The best way you can help your child adjust to the truth that they will never totally "arrive" (and get to stay there) is by example.  Enjoy successes in your life.  Enjoy the journey as you go and appreciate the little things as well as the big.  And, this one is tricky, enjoy the fact that you will continue to have new challenges to overcome.  It's o.k. to rejoice in those moments that you have "made it" as long as you do not dwell on that success.  Then move on to the next.  Nothing will touch your family more than seeing you joyfully accept new obstacles as new opportunities to faithfully rely on God to walk you through them.

             (I just wish my kids could see that in me, but I'm going to keep working on it.)

            If you would like more ideas on helping your children (and yourself) develop a Biblical worldview or to find out how to win a Wal-Mart gift card, go to the 31 Days Giveaway (Intro. Part II) post for more Touching Families blog links.  If you want to check out other 31 Days' topics, see The Nester.

*All verses quoted are from the New International Version:  THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


  1. My mountains are usually house work and such. Right now it's getting my kitchen done. If I just get these cabinets painted I will be DONE! :)

    I think maybe part of why we never feel like we've made it is because we CAN'T make it here. This isn't where our stories will end. It's like that one song says "All I know is I'm not at home yet. This is not where I belong."