We also have mile-markers in our lives. As we begin our lives, we look forward to certain major events: driving a car, finishing school, finishing college, getting a job, getting married, having children, having grandchildren, etc. For many, retirement is a mile-marker as well, and in fact, for many is the ultimate mile-marker! This is the grand final one and when we arrive at that one, we have arrived! As I grow closer and closer to that point in the coming weeks, that perspective is a bit disconcerting.
Throughout my life I have been aiming at mile-markers, the kind mentioned above. And now that I am about to reach that big one, it’s a bit disconcerting to think about what is next. What do we aim for next? For Claire and me, the next mile-marker may well be going through another stem cell transplant, but that is hardly a mile-marker to look forward to. Besides we pray that her remission may last many years and so we don’t want to focus on that. So what is next? What do we aim for next in our lives?
When I ponder this it helps me to think of the conversation that Jesus and Peter had after he was restored after Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus is telling him about his future, which sounded pretty ominous; then Peter sees John and asks what will happen to John. Jesus answers, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” (John 21:22) Jesus seems to be telling Peter, “Don’t worry about others; you just follow me and trust that I’ll take care of you.”
And so in my times of wondering what is next and what is coming down the road next, I imagine Jesus saying to me, “Don’t worry about that. Just follow me and trust that I will provide for you and lead you. I’ll lead you where you need to go.” You don’t need a mile-marker to follow Jesus. You just have to be willing to be used in whatever way he calls and to say “OK” to what he gives you to do. That’s unknown, a bit scary but also exciting as we look down the road.
But we also have this solid confidence that also comes from John, this time from his first letter. “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2) We may not know exactly what the future may be, but we know ultimately it will be good for then we will be where God is fully and be as we are supposed to be. And that is something to be looking forward to!