So when they met together, they asked him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ Acts 1: 76-8
Anyone that has travelled with young children, especially on a long journey, will have experienced the inevitable question ‘Are we there yet?’ – a question repeated with monotonous regularity. Children too young to understand the concept of time related to a long trip, coupled with the boredom of travel, and the excitement of the destination to see family or friends, or maybe going on holiday, just want to get there fast.
Adults will often comment on the impatience of children and their constant questioning; yet it seems to me that as adults we are really no different. Asking questions is natural and positive; we can learn so much through our inquisitive nature.
In our current situation, there a number of questions that we simply do not have answers for, but hopefully we will have soon. There are however some questions that have no answer, or where knowing the answer would not be helpful. In Acts 1: 6, Jesus is asked by the disciples about restoring the kingdom of Israel. Jesus tells them that it is not for them to know.
The disciples were looking for a king that would take on the authority of the day – the Romans. Despite all that had happened, they still had not grasped the kingdom Jesus speaks of to be a heavenly kingdom on earth. The was no immediate ‘fix’ to the issues of the day. It was not even about the restoration of Israel, certainly not in the sense they saw it. Rather it was about God re-establishing His kingdom on earth. Jesus announced at the start of His ministry, ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
The kingdom of heaven has come but is not yet fully with us. So, if we ask, ‘Are we there yet?’ the answer is no. We are still on the journey. We know we will get there, because God has told us we will and He always keeps His promises; we just do not know when.
Rather than try to fathom out why events are happening as they are, and what they mean, it might be better to come back to the ‘solid place.’ As Henri Nouwen writes: ‘You have to trust the place that is solid, the place where you can say yes to God’s love even when you do not feel it.’
We know God loves us; there is no greater testimony to this than Jesus. We know too that the Holy Spirit comes as promised.
We are tasked with loving one another as He loves us. There is work to be done. ‘Are we there yet?’ No, we are still on the journey, but we have all we need to reach our destination.