Some years ago on my return trip from Europe on Swiss Air flight # 128 , I experienced for the first time the unique personal video display screens mounted on the back of each passenger’s seat for the benefit of the passenger behind. The screen showed a full color panorama of the land and ocean over which our plane was flying. It was continually changing. I could follow the small icon of our plane as it made its way from Zurich, our point of departure, to our destination.
The display kept us informed of the changes in altitude, the temperature, distance already covered, the distance remaining to touchdown, the plane’s speed, the actual hours in flight, present location, and the projected time from point to point. Intermittently the scene flipped to expand for us the entire scope of the world and our little plane icon proportionately displayed as a moving dot. We could see the seascape, the landscape, the atmospheric conditions, and the updated estimated time of arrival. As the hours passed, we could follow our gradual descent in altitude, and when we landed at Dulles International Airport in Virginia after nine hours in flight, the monitor informed us how many miles we had traveled.
We experienced times of “fasten your seat belt” turbulence and some stormy weather, but as passengers we always knew exactly how far we were from our destination. Unless some catastrophe occurred to abort our flight and we crashed into the sea, we could count on the precise time of arrival.
That is not the case with our earthly lives. Most of us know the approximate time of our birth but the time of our arrival at our destination, our spirit’s departure from Planet Earth, is veiled from us by God. We ask in vain, “Are we there yet?” as our impatient children so often whined on a road trip. Most of us would like the luxury of viewing our lives on a display screen as a little icon moving along so we could plan our lives accordingly—to accelerate what we still want to accomplish or experience if we know our time is short or—to relax a little more if we know that generous time still lies ahead.
When we do reach an advanced age, we can speculate quite accurately that the arrival at our destination can’t be too far in the future. One hundred percent of humanity dies; it is absolutely certain that each generation will pass away.
Like the ten wise virgins in Matthew 25, we are always to be ready for the coming of The Bridegroom although we don’t know the ETA of His arrival. In the case of our earthly lives, whether we are young or old, the sight of our Bridegroom may be heralded either when we draw our last mortal breath or when Jesus Christ arrives at His promised glorious Second Coming. In either case, our lamps should be full of oil, symbolizing the fullness of the Holy Spirit, and our wicks trimmed to burn brightly. Like the oil in the lamps of the tent of meeting in Exodus 27 outside the veil, burning from evening to morning, the lamps require clear, pure oil from beaten olives to enable them to burn continually. Our oil is to be combined with spices and fragrant incense (of prayer and praise and worship) as we wait for our Bridegroom. Daily, continually, we should seek to be anointed with fresh oil (Psalm 92:10) so that our cup is continually running over. (Psalm 23:5)
Then our question, “Are we there yet?” will be answered by the Father’s welcome, “Well done, good and faithful servant; Enter into the joy of your Lord!”