Milestones serve two purposes for me:
- Mapping out the journey ahead. When planning a trip, a project, or even just my day, I set out markers that let me know I’m making progress. Sometimes this looks like a to-do list. I’m pretty good about this exercise because I love to check off things I’ve done. Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve even been guilty of adding things I’ve done to the list just so I can fell the rush of checking it off. This type of marker keeps me focussed and eliminates distractions so I don’t get lost on my way
- The second purpose of a milestone is for remembrance. How far we have come? What twists and turns, valleys and mountain tops, rivers and gulches have we made it through? Sometimes a task on my journey seems difficult and endless. Each step forward seems inconsequential to the whole. But if I set milestones on the journey I can look back on, then when the going gets tough and discouragement becomes my companion, I know that with consistency and perseverance I will get to the goal.
I need to visually see that I am making progress. Without these trusted tools, I feel I’m treading water. . .standing still. In the New Testament Jesus instituted baptism and The Lord’s Supper as reminders of His faithfulness. He understood we need reminders for our journey. I’ve been thinking of setting markers of my faith journey with God. In the Old Testament, we find our heroes of faith setting markers. Most often these took the form of an altar built to remember God’s faithfulness. I think this might be a tradition we should resurrect in our homes and churches.
I was blessed to be part of a simple ceremony when a young man completed a recovery program. Friends gathered for food and camaraderie in celebration of the impact this young man had made on their lives. Each was asked to bring a stone inscribed with a memory dear to them and the guest of honor. As each presented their stone, the tears flowed. The stones were received with hugs and tears and were set in a pile. As the last stone was set, we gathered around this dear one and prayed for his future as he departed. We asked God to be with him and to use our stones to remind him of his commitments, of his progress, our love, and of God’s presence. As he left, suitcases were loaded along with his precious stones. I have a feeling those stones will be present in his home for a lifetime. Remembrance.
Life isn’t easy. The journey includes many hurdles we have to overcome. As I look back, my stones would represent the times He has taught me to trust Him more. They would be my markers of increased faith in His faithfulness to me: when I thought I could not go on, when my burden was too heavy to bear, when my sorrow overwhelmed and threatened to pull me under, when enemies surrounded me, when I was lost and confused, felt rejected or failed, when my heart hurt and felt it would burst (or at least drown in my tears). Oh He has been faithful to gently put His arms of love around me. He has been the lifter of my head and has set my feet on a solid rock.
I’m thinking of adding a pile of carefully selected and inscribed stones on the front porch. I want them to be a sign not only to me, but to my children and to all who enter in, of the faithfulness of God.