Today we’re leaving for a trip to Arizona to visit the Grand Canyon and to celebrate my Grandmother’s 90th birthday. Yesterday was a day of packing and preparing.
My husband and I are excited because it’s our first big family trip in over a year and our first trip ever to the Grand Canyon.
Our kids are excited too, although with all the enthusiasm of an ennui-filled teenager, my daughter’s response was, “What’s the big deal? It’s just a big hole in the ground.” (Lord, give me patience!) But where my daughter lacks words, my 10-year-old son more than fills the silence. Since this is his first trip to Arizona as well as the Grand Canyon he asked a lot of questions yesterday. A. lot. of. questions!
With his habitual mantra of Why? What? How? When? he’s often focused on figuring out the unknown. As a result he frequently misses the unfolding discoveries of new experiences.
When we arrive in Phoenix we’ll visit with a dear friend of mine from high school. Then we’re off to the Grand Canyon. There are many unknowns. Yesterday as we packed, my son’s brain was in overdrive trying to identify, categorize and sort them all.
- What are her (my friend’s) kids going to be like?
- Do they have a pool? How big is it?
- When we land? What time will it be at home?
- How long is the drive to the Grand Canyon?
- What will our room look like?
- How far away is the Canyon from our room?
- How wide are the paths that we hike on?
- Why can’t we hike to the bottom? I want to play in the water.
- Will there be water along the way?
- Will we see coyote?
- What kind of SUV did we rent?
- What time do we get home? Is that Arizona time or our time?
Whew, all that in ten minutes! I’m not kidding!
Even if I could answer all his questions, dozens more lay in wait. Because he wants to envision a moment-by-moment picture in his mind’s eye. But what concrete answers can adequately describe the actual experience of traveling to an exciting new place, visiting with family and friends we rarely see and witnessing the majesty of a natural wonder.
His questions got me thinking about our faith journey and the questions we ask along the way. Why? What? How? When?
- Why do bad things happen to good people?
- Why wasn’t my prayer answered?
- How can all the stories in the Old Testament really be true?
- Why are there starving people in Africa?
- What about religious people who die who aren’t Christians?
- What does heaven look like?
- Why does God let evil exist if He’s really all-powerful?
- Why do I have to tell others?
- Why isn’t it enough that I’m a good person?
- When is Jesus coming again?
We ask and ask and ask. Some of our questions can be answered. Others can’t—yet. Even if they are, dozens more lay in wait. But as we focus on figuring out the situation-by-situation specifics we miss the experience.
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) Besides, what concrete answers can adequately describe how much God loves us or what it’s like, through Jesus, to have a personal relationship with the Creator of the Universe? And that’s the point of the journey, isn’t it?
I’m excited for the experiences and memories our trip will bring. But most of all I can’t wait to stand on the edge of the Grand Canyon and take in a view that I'm sure will be magnificent.
I can only imagine the view at the gates of heaven will be even better!