Milestones. We use the word to describe key dates today. The ancient Romans used the word milestones for actual stones set up every… can you guess? Yeah, each mile had a marker to let travelers know how far they had come and the number of miles to their destination.
October 27, 1972, was 50 years today. That probably wasn’t a milestone for you, but I was a 14-year-old confused teen who had tried to privately accept Jesus 14 times in the previous 10 months. I had trusted Jesus on December 17, 1971, but still had no assurance that I was really a Christian. My mom was six months into her third marriage which my siblings and I predicted would not last a year (we were wrong, as it lasted 48 years).
Some friends had brought me to church for a year by then but I was still trying to figure out life. Some people told me that I needed an emotional experience to really become a Christian, while others said I needed to speak in an unknown language—but I only knew English!
That night 50 years ago our church bussed the youth to a slaughterhouse in Oakland, California. I mean the real thing, with pig guts and all. The college group delighted in scaring us teenagers into submission as we “toured” around corners in that dark and smelly place. It was an ideal place to appeal to Christian commitment.
Then the bus brought hundreds of us Halloween celebrants to another church where the speaker, Bill McKee, spoke on “Year, Month, Day, Hour, The End.” He emphasized how Jesus would return at an exact time unknown to us, but it would be a specific year, month, day, and hour that would mark the end of this age as we know it. I had never heard that Jesus would return to the earth again! Was I ready?
That night I trusted Christ to forgive my sins for the last time to make sure that I was really in the faith. My sister, Kathie, trusted him for the first time that same night 50 years ago today. So her salvation and my re-commitment are milestones for both of us.
I filled out the commitment card and turned it in for someone to follow up on me, and when we got back to our own church, I was walking down the hallway. A sister in Jesus saw my portion of the card in my hand and declared, “Welcome to the family!”
“What?” I thought. “You mean, I have a spiritual family now when my home life functioned little like a family?” I was floored.
The 50 years since that day have brought me around the world sharing this message in over 30 nations from America to Mongolia, from the Chinese world for 30 years to my new venture in the Arab world.
Milestones are good. Milestones cause you to look back at God’s faithfulness. Milestones also give you hope for future markers that will soon become past markers of his love. What milestone do you need to remember today?