I’ve spent more of my time traveling this summer than I usually do. We’ve been out east and down south and I’ve been out west. And because most of this travel has been through places I seldom if ever go, I have been aware of signs. Signs of distance, signs of direction, signs of warning, signs of interest.
Milestones have been of particular interest. The milestone (as they are on the Blue Ridge Parkway) or milemarker tells you where you are, as measured from the beginning of the road you are on.
Here’s why that number helps. When traveling you want to know where you are. This can help you figure out how far you still need to go (“Another hundred and twenty-two miles!?”), how far you have come (“Five hours and we’ve only come 139 miles?”) and what you need to do next (“The next rest are is 47 miles. We better stop now.”).
Here’s why that number doesn’t help, however. A milestone only indicates distance from the previous point. It doesn’t tell you whether this is the right road, at least drectly. It doesn’t tell you what the previous mile cost you in time or gasoline. The milestone can’t let you know that during the next mile you will have aa conversation that will transform your life, because of a great revelation or a signficant argument. The milestone doesn’t tell you how much time or passion or attention or rubber you have left.
We place great value in milestones (first date, graduation, first job, retirement). As indicators of distance that’s fine. But as indicators of meaning, of significance, of purpose, I’m not sure that any one milestone says much. They measure “what”, and I’m thinking that the more important question is “how”. How did I get here?
In answer to the question “what should we do?” God once answered, “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”* That is less about milestones and more about the life in between.
It’s the beginning of August. According to the milestone, the year is 7/12 done. There are only 5 months left to accomplish everything you committed to do at the beginning of the year.
But a calendar date is only a measure of time, not signficance. What signficance, influence, passion, justice, love, humility do you want to put into this trip before the next milestone?