Are we there yet? If you’ve ever ridden with youngsters in the back seat, you’ve heard the question—often over and over!
Some inventive parents have used that question to help direct their children’s gaze to signs along the highway, helping them answer their own question by paying attention to the information available.
Milestones are an earlier version of those road signs: stones along the road that indicate how far it was to a specific place. But, as we are all aware, the term milestones has taken on an additional meaning since it was first created. Today, the term “milestone” can also be used to indicate a specific achievement.
Whether talking about the developmental milestone of a baby’s first word or first steps, or the 50th anniversary of the moon landing we observed this past summer, milestones seek to draw our attention to something important.
We learn in the Old Testament that God’s people, despite their frequent disobedience and striving to live apart from God, were given marked places and times to similarly help them keep their attention focused on the right thing.
In I Sam. 7:12, for example, we read that after the Israelites defeated the Philistines, Samuel “took a stone and … named it Ebenezer, saying ‘thus far has the Lord has helped us.’” And, after wandering for 40 years and then finally crossing the Jordan, Joshua arranged for 12 stones to be placed as “a sign among you. In the future when your children ask you ‘what do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord” (Josh. 4:6-7).
When I left Trinity Christian College, my co-workers gave me a stone with these biblical words etched into it: May the LORD bless you and keep you; may the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; may the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
I await the day when my grandchildren see the stone at our home and ask me, “Why did your Trinity colleagues send you off with that verse?” I will be able to tell them about God’s faithfulness during that period of our lives.
As a denomination, the Christian Reformed Church in North America also has milestones to which we should pay attention. In July, for example, I had the opportunity to travel to Holland to present a plaque to East Saugatuck CRC in commemoration of their 150th anniversary of that ministry.
This fall, Resonate Global Mission is helping us acknowledge the CRC’s history of mission from the time Johanna Veenstra traveled to Nigeria 100 years ago to today. And Back to God Ministries International is reminding us that it has been 80 years since our denomination made its first radio broadcast.
When we observe important anniversaries like these, we give witness to God’s faithfulness. What’s more, when we place a plaque on a wall, or print a timeline of key events, we provide ourselves and future generations with a reminder of God’s hand in our lives at a particular point in time. It enables our children, grandchildren, neighbors and co-workers to ask “what do these stones mean?” And it gives us the chance to provide testimony of God’s faithfulness.
May we “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks … to give the reason for the hope that you have” (I Peter 3:15). And may our homes and churches be places filled with items and events that invite the questions!