Five children, my mom and I packed into a car with all we need for almost two weeks on the road. A cooler separates two children in the back. Bags, chairs, odds and ends take up the leg room for everyone not fortunate enough to still need a car seat. There’s no room because my one rule for traveling is that nothing can be packed higher than the seats. I don’t want a deer or a minor fender bender or even slamming on the brakes to turn our stuff into deadly projectiles. Tired, uncomfortable and irritable, our vacation begins.
As did the bickering. The arguing. The poking. The kicking of seats. For 350 miles to our first stop at a little campsite in Oklahoma, the children argued.
“Do you want to go to camp?” I asked. “Is it worth the drive? Or do you want to turn back?”
Yes, they wanted to go. They all agreed. But as nine became ten and ten became eleven and no one showed any signs of sleeping, I began to wonder.
A little after midnight, I finally pulled into the campsite. As I tried to make myself comfortable somewhere between a toddler seat and a steering wheel, I wondered some more.
“Is it worth the drive?“
This journey through life is not easy. I am often cramped in a position I see no way out of, sitting next to someone I don’t always get along with thinking all the while that somehow everyone else has it a little better. And if only I could change this little bit, everything would be better.
And now that I have had a taste of real suffering, the veil has been lifted. The veil that allowed me to say, “Smile and be happy!” while all of creation groans under the weight of sin has been lifted and I groan alongside it.
I used to look forward to the future, to the adventure each day brought, to the fulfillment of dreams painted on a canvas of late night conversations and musings about all that life could be. But the color has gone out of my dreams as I realize just how unimportant most of my pursuits have become. How unimportant they always have been, though I never recognized it before.
But now I look forward to a different future.
The children are better at it than I am. LE sometimes prays that God would let Tiggy sleep in His big bed. Bug wants to know if Jesus plays chase with him the way we did. They talk about Heaven the way I used to talk about this property: full of work and play and loved ones and life.
Sometimes I listen to them talk and I get glimpses of Heaven. Of eternity. Of life with God and the saints and Tiggy. Forever. I imagine the brilliance of Heaven and all I ever hoped for in this world pales in comparison. Standing at the gates of eternity, it is hard to imagine that the temporal struggles of this world will have quite the same importance as they seem to now.
Isn’t it worth the drive? Through the inconveniences, the struggles and the heartache, isn’t Heaven worth it?