- Adam Schell
Get There Fast
There’s a stretch of highway that runs for just over 380 miles between Los Angeles to San Francisco called the I-5. Now, the speed limit on the I-5 is 70 miles per hour which means that under ideal traffic conditions if you wanted to drive from LA to San Fransisco that it should take you a little under six hours. But if you’ve ever driven on the interstate in LA, you know there’s no such thing as ideal traffic conditions. So the truth is that if you want to drive from LA to San Fransisco it’ll probably take you at least eight hours instead of six.
Now, you could try to cut down some of your travel time by flying. And the actual flight time from LAX to San Fransisco is about an hour. But that doesn’t take into account your drive to the airport or having to arrive a couple of hours to make it through TSA. So flying from LA to San Fransisco would probably take you about 4 hours.
And that’s not bad. It would cut your travel time in half. But still, you’d figure that there would be a better way to travel around California. I mean this is California we’re talking about. This is the home to Hollywood. So surely the place that came up with ideas like having Scotty beam you up, or Hans Solo taking the Millennium Falcon into hyperdrive could come up with a quicker way to get around.
Well, that’s exactly what California — and Los Angeles specifically — has been trying to do for years. In March of 2021, the city of LA awarded over $130 million in funds to further explore developing a monorail system to run over some of its busiest highways or a subway system to run under them.
But as much as commuters in LA might appreciate a monorail or subways system, there is one other idea that’s in development right now to ease the traffic problems in California that might change transportation forever.
Now, I told you a minute ago that it typically takes about eight hours to drive the 380 miles from LA to San Fransisco. And I told you it would take about four hours to fly from one of these cities to the other. But there is one idea that is currently in development that would allow you to travel from LA to San Fransisco in 34 minutes.
You heard me right, there is an idea in development right now that would allow you to travel 380 miles in 34 minutes. This idea is called a hyperloop, and it kind of works like the vacuum tubes that your bank uses at the drive-through when you want to deposit a check…only it works a lot faster. It goes 670 miles per hour.
Bibop Greta, who was the chief operating officer for Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, which started this project, has said that the hyperloop is “the closest thing to tele-transportation” we’ve ever created.
Now, I don’t know if the hyperloop will ever become a reality. I don’t know if people will ever be able to travel 670 miles per hour on the ground. But there is one thing that I know for sure, as people, when we know where we want to go we want to get there as fast as we can.
When we know where we want to go we want to get there as fast as we can.
And that’s not just true when it comes to traveling, it’s true in every area of our lives. I mean, that’s even how most of us are feeling about our church right now. Last Sunday, we voted to rent out the next space that our church is going to call home. And we’re going to be moving into that space at 11003 Bluegrass Parkway beginning in just a few weeks.
And I don’t have to tell you all that this has been a long time coming. It’s been almost five years since our church decided that in order for us to be the church that God has called us to be and to do the work that God has called us to do that we had to sell our old building. We finalized that sale in September of 2020 – which was two years ago when we were still in the height of a pandemic. So, since our church resumed worshiping in person in April of last year, we have been a portable church. We’ve been renting space from the University of Louisville to hold our worship services for almost eighteen months.
So now that we know we have a new space to call home, we’re ready to move forward...and we want to do it as fast as we can.
And that’s because we all know how challenging the last few years have been. We all know how hard it was to sell our old property. We all know how much work has gone into being a portable church. We all know how difficult it’s been to put a lot of our hopes and a lot of our dreams for the future of Melbourne Heights on hold.
So, now that we know that this chapter in the life of our church is coming to an end, we want to move forward…and we want to move forward as fast as we can.
And when I think about where we’re at right now as a church, I can’t help but think back to where the people of Israel were about 2,500 years ago. And, if you’re wondering where the people of Israel were 2,500 years ago, it’s safe to say they were in a bad place.
In 586 BC, the southern kingdom of Israel (which was called Judah) was invaded and conquered by the great Babylonian Empire. And that last sentence doesn’t even begin to do justice to what the people of Judah experienced.
If you want to know what it was like for the people of Judah to be conquered by the Babylonians, just read the Book of Lamentations in the Bible some time. Church tradition tells us that this book was written after the prophet Jeremiah, walked through the streets of Jerusalem after the invasion. And let me just share a little bit from Lamentations with you now. Jeremiah writes:
5 My Lord has become like an enemy. He devoured Israel; he devoured all her palaces; he made ruins of her city walls. In Daughter Judah he multiplied mourning along with more mourning!
6 He wrecked his own booth like a garden; he destroyed his place for festivals. The Lord made Zion forget both festival and sabbath; in his fierce rage, he scorned both monarch and priest.
7 My Lord rejected his altar, he abandoned his sanctuary; he handed Zion’s palace walls over to enemies…
Lamentations 2:5-7a (Common English Bible)
I can’t even begin to imagine what Jeremiah saw as he walked through Jerusalem. But it must have been horrific for him to describe it the way that he does. Jeremiah says that the city looked like God devoured it – wrecking and destroying everything there including the holiest places in the city: the temple and the altar there.
And if all of this wasn’t bad enough, after Babylon conquered the southern kingdom of Judah, they hauled off thousands of people taking them as prisoners of war. So thousands of people from Judah were in exile.
And it couldn’t have been easy to live in exile. It couldn’t have been easy to live as a stranger in a foreign land. It couldn’t have been easy to be forced away from your family and friends. It couldn’t have been easy to be forced to start over and wonder if you would ever be able to go back home.
But that’s really all the people of Judah wanted. They wanted to go back home. They want to escape their exile. They want to move forward.
And in the book of Jeremiah, in Jeremiah 30 and 31, God promises the people that they’ll get what they want. Just listen to part of what God tells them. Starting in Jeremiah 30:2, we’re told:
2 The Lord, the God of Israel, proclaims: Write down in a scroll all the words I have spoken to you. 3 The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will bring back my people Israel and Judah from captivity, says the Lord. I will bring them home to the land that I gave to their ancestors, and they will possess it. 4 Here are the words that the Lord spoke concerning Israel and Judah:
10...don’t be afraid, my servant Jacob, declares the Lord, Don’t lose hope, Israel. I will deliver you from faraway places and your children from the land of their exile. My people Jacob will again be safe and sound, with no one harassing them. 11 I am with you and will rescue you, declares the Lord. I will put an end to all the nations where I have scattered you. But I won’t put an end to you...
31:3b I have loved you with a love that lasts forever. And so with unfailing love, I have drawn you to myself. 4 Again, I will build you up, and you will be rebuilt, virgin Israel. Again, you will play your tambourines and dance with joy. 5 Again, you will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria; farmers will plant and then enjoy the harvests.
31 The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah...33b I will put my Instructions within them and engrave them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
Jeremiah 30:2-4, 10-11a, 31:3b-5, 31a & 32b (Common English Bible)
Did you hear everything that God promised the people of Judah? God promised that he would free the people of Judah from their captivity. God promised he would bring the people of Judah back to the land that God gave their ancestors. God promised the people of Judah that they would be safe and sound with no one harassing them.
But that’s not all. God also promised the people of Judah that they would sing and dance again. God promised them that there would be prosperity and abundance again. And God promised them that there would be nothing more abundant than God’s love for them.
Now, I don’t know about you, but when I read all of those promises I can’t wait for them to be fulfilled. I can’t wait for God’s promises to be fulfilled. And that doesn’t just go for what God promises Israel and Judah...it also goes for what God promises us. And I believe that God promises us, as a church, a lot of the same things that God promised Judah.
I believe that God wants us to be free to follow his calling for our lives and for our church. I believe that God wants us to be in a place where we can sing and dance and celebrate everything that God has done for us. And I believe that God wants us to be in a place that is overflowing with his abundant love.
And I can’t wait for these promises to be fulfilled. We all can’t wait for these promises to be fulfilled.
But before we get in too big of a hurry to move forward, there’s another passage that we need to hear in the book of Jeremiah. So go ahead and grab your Bible and turn with me to Jeremiah 29.
And, as you’re turning there, I just want to point out that the passage that we’re about to read is written right before the people of Judah hear all of these promises that God makes them. So let’s see what God tells them in this passage.
Jeremiah 29, we’ll start reading in verse 4. It says:
4 The Lord of heavenly forces, the God of Israel, proclaims to all the exiles I have carried off from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and settle down; cultivate gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Get married and have children; then help your sons find wives and your daughters find husbands in order that they too may have children. Increase in number there so that you don’t dwindle away. 7 Promote the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because your future depends on its welfare.
Jeremiah 29:4-7 (Common English Bible)
Alright, did you hear what God told the people in this passage? Okay, God knew that he was about to make the people of Israel and Judah a promise. God knew that he was going to promise that he would let them go home – into a land of safety and prosperity and his abundant love. And God knew that the people of Israel and Judah would want to get there as fast as they possibly could.
So before God made this promise that would get the people of Judahl excited about the future, God told them that they needed to build houses and settle where they were. They need to grow gardens and eat the food they produced. God told them they needed to get married and have kids...and then they needed to give their children away in marriage too.
Or to put it another way, God told the people of Judah that they needed to live where they were before they worried about the future.
And God is telling us the exact same thing while we’re waiting to move forward into our next church home. Before we get too excited about where we’re going, we need to live where we are.
Before we get too excited about where we’re going, we need to live where we are.
And there’s a reason why God wants us to live where we are right now. And it’s because God wants to be our God right now. God doesn’t want us to put him off while we’re waiting for our future to come.
God wants to be our God right now.
That’s what God wanted from the people of Israel and Judah. God wanted to be their God while they were in exile. God wanted to be their God while things weren’t going their way. God wanted to be their God through the hard times. Because our God isn’t just a God of the good times. Our God is always God.
So God wants to be God in your life where you are right now. God wants to be God in your life if everything is going right for you right now. But God also wants to be God in your life if nothing is going right for you right now. God wants to be God of your life where you are right now.
But that doesn’t happen if we are only looking toward the future. It happens when we live where we are right now. It happens when we spend time with God right now. It happens when we take the time to notice God and his work right now.
So I know, I know it’s exciting to think of what the future may hold as we move forward as a church. And I know that we all want to move forward as soon as we possibly can. But let’s not get so caught up in the future that we stop following God in the present.
Let’s not get so caught up in the future that we stop following God in the present.
Let’s live where we are and trust that God will take us where he wants us to be.