Millstones or Milestones?


By Rick Painter

My recent birthday came with the realization that I am now in the “retirement decade” of life.  I am still not quite sure how I feel about it.  My original plans were to celebrate the day by hanging around the house working on some of my many projects and end the day with a quiet bonfire in the fire pit.  No big deal, just another day.  But you know how plans can go.

First, my Facebook page almost overflowed with birthday wishes.  I really was surprised and very grateful for all those wishes.  I tried to respond to all of them, but lost track of who I did and did not thank.  If you were one of them, I want you to know that I appreciated them and that you were part of pushing me to actually see things from a different perspective.  Second, my wife pulled together an impromptu birthday party where many of the people I love came and spent time with me.  No firepit, but a fire did start in my thinking.

Is a birthday a millstone or a milestone to you?  Your perspective, as usual, makes a world of difference!  How you see something affects how you feel about it.  Your perspective and your emotions affect how you respond to it.  How you respond to it affects your life and the lives of everyone around you.  It isn’t the number of the birthdays that make them “a big one” or “just another one”. 

I approached my birthday seeing it mainly as a millstone.  A millstone is merely a big thing that is there.  You can’t move it or change it.  It isn’t admirable or ugly.  It just is.  The two highlights I saw were that I was still alive to see it and that I now qualify for senior discounts in more places.  It was nothing to get excited about and nothing to worry about, just another year over and done.  But thankfully I had people who God used to change my perspective and understanding. 

A milestone, on the other hand, is to mark more than distance.  It looks similar, but tt provides a clear reference of what you have already been through.  It is about the good times and the bad times that have shaped you and brought you to where you are.   It marks your “lifescape”.  The good times may not have lasted, but neither did the bad times.  You have succeeded and failed, but learned and grown.  It marks not only your lives, but the lives of others who have touched you and whom you have touched.  The ones you laughed with, cried with, fought with and even ignored. 

Looking back can be a trap if you let it, but it is a mark of wisdom if you use it.  The Psalmist wrote Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts”.  Looking back at milestones provides us points to stop, reflect, and evaluate our lives and then to move on toward the next milestone.  It provides us the spot to intentionally learn about ourselves and develop wisdom.  The goal is not “to be wise”, but to take the next mile more effectively than the previous one(s). 

So how is your life?  When you look back, are you waiting for something?  Have you been wishing for something or have you been taking action based on your trust in Jesus (faithing)?  Have you settled for religion and church over a challenging, growing trust in Jesus?  What eternal impact have you made so far?  How many lives have been touched by Jesus through you?  Are there things that you are carrying that cause you pain that you need to deal with and drop?  Have you found your personal ministry in building up the body of Christ (not just attending or tithing)?   Jesus told us not to worry about tomorrow, but to follow Him today.  Don’t wait for a birthday milestone.  Start developing your heart of wisdom today!

In His Love,


Rick