It was only a year ago when he was blazing a trail for himself into the unknown, my firstborn starting over, in the shade of the mountains along the Rio Grande, a modern pioneer into the frontier-land of the West. At least it felt that way when he packed his clothes and stepped onto a plane that would take him 1,760-and-a-half miles away, leaving all his belongings behind to be boxed up by the movers.
This morning I thought of how far he has come in just a year: how he has carved out a place for himself among his colleagues at work, made friends and grown hobbies that keep him busy most nights, and how the aching loneliness and chafing of everything-new has weathered through the months into belonging, and now he is home. The old has gone, the new has come.
I wanted to call him and remind him how it was then, and celebrate with him the good that it is now, but I knew he would just brush it off; that living-in-the-moment energy of youth simply accepts what is, and doesn’t think back to what was, or consider how different it might have been. That perspective is reserved maybe for people who have lived longer– long enough to see hard changes and understand the value of learning from where you’ve been, long enough to regret the past and appreciate Grace. Remember the old, and celebrate the new.
I don’t want to forget those milestones of growth, of choices made that changed everything, of turning, because they remind me that God is at work in my life for good, and He is faithful to His promises. Milestones keep me thankful, and I can’t ever stop remembering and thanking Him, or I might forget where I have come from and where I am going. The old has gone, the new has come, and remembering that will keep me on the right path. “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4)
It’s what Yahweh told His people to do when they crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land and He made the water pull back from their feet: pile up stones of remembrance to build a memorial and in the future when the children ask what they stones mean you can tell them how God helped you there, how you stepped from wandering to being home. Purim, Hanukkah, Passover…all feasts to remember God’s power to deliver, to change the way things are and make them new. “For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.” (1 Corinthians 11:26) Remember the milestones, because they are what have shaped you and they will mark your path as you go.
You can lose your way in the Dark so easily, slide into the half-truths of the Deceiver before you realize… and that’s what milestones are for, to mark the way by pointing to the One who saves. Jesus said “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6) So we pile up stones of remembrance, and celebrate how He has marked our lives with His salvation, all the times He showed Himself to us more clearly, opened up the door to a deeper understanding of who He is. Don’t ever let me forget just how amazing Grace is.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'” (Jeremiah 29:11)
“The wind is strong and the water’s deep,
But I’m not alone on these open seas,
‘Cause Your love never fails.” (Your Love Never Fails, Jesus Culture)