Everyone has a birthday. Many have anniversaries and other significant dates that mark a point in time we want to remember––or possibly to forget. Milestones are part of culture. They are part of what create homogeneity in a group. They mark a shared history or perhaps a shared goal. How we view these milestones has a lot to do with our point of focus.
What is the true purpose of a milestone? Is it a marker of the past? A way to remember the legacy and heritage that came before? A solid argument can be made for this purpose. As a history buff, I believe in the power and importance of remembering. God obviously agrees. Why else the extensive history of our race from creation through the founding of the modern church? Those genealogies and accounts of long-dead kings, nations and events aren’t placed there for fun or ease of memorization. We are to remember what came before––both the good and the not-so-good. These accounts provide examples of how we should and should not behave, even today.
It’s important to study and remember how insidious evil can overcome an unprepared world. Look at ancient Babylon, Rome or more modern Germany. A people who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. But is that all a milestone is for? A look back at our history? Or is it a memorial for the future?
Washington D.C. is a fantastic place to visit. If you’ve never been there, I highly encourage you to go. It is full of memorials and markers. Some highlight the past. Others are a legacy for the future. Some are both. Is that what a birthday or other milestone represents? A legacy for the future? A time to look ahead and see where we want to go? Maybe. But I propose it could also be a point from which to anchor the present.
We tend to live in either the past or the future. It is hard to find time for the present. We worry about what has happened and we plan for the future. While both of these pursuits are valuable, we tend to neglect the here and now. We often forget to enjoy the what, who or where of our current situation.
Stop and contemplate your present circumstance. Where are you? Are you alone or in a group? Is it by choice or accident? Wherever and with whomever you are, are you celebrating and raising up the name of Jesus. Are you giving Him thanks for his past provision. Are you looking to the future and the mission He gives us to go and make disciples of all peoples? Are you praising him for the grace and mercy and fellowship he extends to you in this moment. The privilege to share a milestone with fellow travelers on the Christian path. The privilege to walk that path with a loving God and Savior.
So as we celebrate, let’s agree to remember the past, but stay present in the moment. Then, as the celebration concludes, like a runner about to begin a contest, let it provide a starting block––a solid place-––from which we can race into our future––a future that may include a move outside our zone of comfort as we comply with Jesus’ directive in Matthew 28:19-20, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
I want my milestone marker at the end of my life to read, “She walked with Jesus and lit the way for others to join her on the path. Now, she walks in Heaven.” Thus remembering my past, present, and future.
What about you? Do you tend to focus on one aspect of milestones more than the others? Do you hold on to the past, worry about the future or concern yourself with the present? Are you able to focus on the here-and-now? Or is your mind caught up with plans and worries? Comment below and join the conversation. Perhaps we can become a community that helps each other along the path.