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David Hegg: The meaning of milestones

Posted: August 19, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 19, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Technically a milestone is a marker along the road testifying to how many miles have passed. When you travel by car you pass them, every mile, and most of the time you don’t notice or care. But heeded or not they have meaning.

Milestones can also be markers along the road of life that point out the passage of time, that celebrate or at least remind us of pleasure or pain now past.

They don’t have a voice but they speak and tell us something that may or may not be important, depending on how we hear them. And depending on what they say, we choose either to heed or ignore their message.

We’re all aware of milestones. The birth of a child, the first solid food, a first pair of shoes, and on and on. We mark out the first day of school, the first goal scored or fugue played, and soon it’s graduation, marriage — and for some the cycle begins again.

For others it continues forward into career, and old age, and the blissful memory of younger days. And all along the way we mark off milestones that act as guardians of our past, reminding us that we endured something, or accomplished something, or both.

Milestones tell us how far we’ve come, and force us to reflect on the journey. Some things we’d rather forget while others deserve to be remembered and cherished.

But, unfortunately, milestones belong to a perception of life that is losing its popularity today. Milestones depend on seeing life as a journey, as going somewhere, understanding this life as purposeful, even preparatory.

But if life isn’t really going anywhere, if we can’t account for our existence except on selfish grounds, then it doesn’t really matter what we’ve done or where we’re going. If life is only “of the moment” then milestones have no purpose, and the only thing worth celebrating is momentary pleasure.

In this case, the hedonist turns out to have won the contest. And to the motto “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die” he quotes a famous pig and says “And that’s all folks!” But I refuse to give in to the nonsense that this world, this life, has no meaning or purpose beyond mere existence.

I believe in milestones even as I believe that this life is to be lived out in view of the next.

It is this focus that allows me to live beyond myself, and in this I have found great comfort and fulfillment, despite the brokenness of this world.

And I am thankful to have married a woman who feels the same and has partnered with me joyfully and courageously on the marriage pathway for 35 years as of today.

As we mark our 35th anniversary we happily remember all the milestones along the way.

Some of them were painful. Most were joyful. All were memorable.

But in every case we’ve travelled together, marking off the miles, prizing one another, diligent to have it said in the end that those who came behind us found us faithful.  

David W. Hegg is senior pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Santa Clarita.


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