“Are we there yet?”
Oh, how I remember saying these words as a child. Staring out the window of the backseat of my mother's car as we drove from Richmond, Virginia to my grandparent's house in Charlotte, North Carolina. The ride always felt like an eternity. Six hours was like a lifetime to me, especially when there was only music on the radio and playing games like "I Spy" to occupy my thoughts and pass the time. Of course, when my sisters were with us, we would fight over who was touching who and everyone hoped my younger sister wouldn't get car sick! The best you could hope for was that all the kids (myself included) would fall mercifully asleep.
As I grew older, I learned it wasn't smart to keep asking if we were there yet. The more we whined about the length of the car ride the longer it seemed to take and the madder my parents would get! Instead, I started paying more attention. How the landscape would change as we traveled further South. I began to recognize landmarks and started paying attention to the signs. The first one that always stood out was the “Welcome to North Carolina” sign as you crossed the border leaving Virginia and officially entering Tarheel country. The road itself even changed. I never understood why the roads seemed better in Virginia but, you could literally see and feel the change in the road when you crossed the border- as the road turned from a nice, smooth, deep black asphalt to a rough, worn-out, faded gray version. There were certain restrooms we would always frequent-especially those that the truckers used as they seemed to be better with cleanliness and amenities. I would get excited when we would finally start to see signs telling us how many miles until we reached Charlotte. Those were like a countdown.
Finally, we would turn onto NC Highway 115 and I knew we were in the home stretch. The signs and landmarks became more pronounced the green and white Croft sign, Silas Davis' general store, the VFW sign advertising bingo every Friday night, and the abandoned railroad car rusted and overgrown with kudzu. Once I saw that sign, I knew we were moments to our destination…. then the car would slow, turn left into the driveway, and before my eyes was the most beautiful colonial farmhouse, brilliant white with dark green shutters and trim. As far as I was concerned, it was the most beautiful house in the world and I was ecstatic to see my grandparents which made the six-hour torture ride worth it!
I think back on those trips and realized that the ride became bearable when I wasn’t complaining and started paying attention to what was going on around me- focusing on the journey and watching closely for the tell-tale signs that would give me a pretty accurate estimation of our arrival.
Ironically, I believe we can apply this same principle to the question "Are we living in the end times?" It's a lingering question that has been asked in every generation. Heck, I just read an article sharing statics that 39% of the adults in the United States believe humanity is "living in the end times."
In Chapter 13 of the gospel of Mark, Jesus himself tells us the signs of the end times. He pretty much gives us a laundry list of signs to be on the lookout for and although He tells us no one will ever know the exact hour except for God the Father, we can tell when it is approaching just like we can tell when summer is nearby looking at the blooming trees!
So, let's look at the signs that Jesus spoke about:
1. Temple in Jerusalem will be destroyed (Mark 13:2)
2. False teachers will deceive many (Mark 13:5-6)
3. Wars & rumors of wars (Mark 13:7)
4. Nations/kingdoms rise against nations/kingdoms (Mark 13:8)
5. Earthquakes and famines (Mark 13:8)
6. Persecution of Christians (Mark 13:9)
7. Gospel preached to all nations (Mark 13:10)
8. Families will betray one another (Mark 13:12)
9. *Abomination standing where it doesn't belong in Judea (Mark 13:14)
10. False messiahs & prophets performing signs & wonders (Mark 13:22)
11. Solar anomalies (sun & moon go dark and stars fall from the sky) (Mark 13:24-25)
(All of them are self-explanatory except for # 9 - that one takes some explaining…. #9 is a reference to the book of Daniel (Chapters 9, 11, and 12) where Daniel gives a prophecy that speaks about a ruler that will make a treaty with Israel for a term of seven years. During this term, the ruler reneges on the deal and sends in troops to end the sacrifices taking place at the Jewish Temple. Once the Temple is infiltrated this ruler desecrates the Temple by placing something sacrilegious on its grounds.)
Friends, much like the landmarks and road signs that led me to my grandparent's house- these are the signs that will lead us to the Second Coming of Christ!
At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens. Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door.
(Mark 13: 26-29 )
We will never know the exact day of Jesus' arrival, but if you are living and breathing right now- you best believe you are on a journey, a road trip heading towards a destination.
I hope that we all are enjoying the journey, but not forsaking the importance of the trip. We should be filled with gratitude that we get the opportunity to even take the ride! Let's pay attention, look for the signs, and seek wisdom and guidance to understand their meanings. Living our lives with focus and purpose.
I pray you know Jesus and will be ready and excited to meet him because He is our
ultimate destination... in this lifetime or the next.
So, I ask… "Are we there yet?"