A Milestone year
2016 is a year of celebration in our family, for we have three milestone birthdays. My wonderful mother is 80 this weekend; we celebrated my husband’s 60th birthday last month, and my youngest son will be 30 at the end of the year.
Such “milestones” serve to allow us a pause … a space to breathe, and remember how far we have come. Some memories will be good, and others we choose to apply some selective forgettory to, and quietly ignore. But the whole idea of calling such important points in our journeys of life “milestones” made me think of car journeys with my parents as a child. My father’s family lived in Surrey, which is halfway around the world when you are a youngster, especially in the days when the M4 was barely in existence, and my home was in the Rhondda valleys of South Wales. Such a long way to go, up at the crack of dawn, having to travel part of the way in a ferry across the River Severn – the trip seemed interminable. On one occasion we were due to travel on the ferry whilst the Severn Bridge was in the process of being built. Some nationalists objected to the bridge project, and had put out a bomb threat, which was due to occur at exactly the moment we were going on the ferry under it. I shall never forget how important it was that I was ready in the back seat, having removed my shoes in order to swim if we had to escape from the car!
But like aeons of children before me, as I sat journeying, the inevitable cry came from my lips “Are we there yet?” The advent of motorway travel gave my father the great answer – “Keep looking at the blue mile marker boards” (or as they are more formally known, Route Confirmatory Boards). As each destination came up on a board, together with how many miles were left, it became both a way of keeping me quiet, and a quick maths lesson!
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could have such mileboards in our spiritual journeys? These “Route Confirmatory Boards” not only tell us how many miles to go to our destination, but they are also strategically placed soon after a junction, to ensure that you know that you are still on the road you thought you should be! More often than not, God only allows us to see a small part of the way ahead, and we have to trust Him for the whole map. I think in hindsight it is probably just as well that we don’t know the whole journey too far in advance, as we might have tried a far different route altogether.
However, milestones should also help us realise that although we may not know for certain what lies ahead of us, we can be thankful for getting thus far. We need to acknowledge, like the Israelites had to after several run-ins with their Philistine enemies, that we need to set up an Ebenezer, a reminder that “hitherto God has helped us” ( 1 Samuel 7:12) In our eagerness to “get there”, don’t neglect moments of thankfulness for how far you have come.
Which parts of your journey would you rather you had NOT travelled?
In hindsight, what did you learn because God allowed you to go on that route?
Will you trust Him with the journey to come, and only knowing maybe one or two steps ahead?