If you live in an urban area, you might not be too familiar with milestones, but if you live in the country, or have ever taken a road trip, you know that highways are marked every mile. This tells you how far you’ve come, how far you’ve still to go, and where the next exit/gas station/town is.
Every life has milestones, too: the start and end of school, college graduation, getting married, the birth of a child, etc.
And the Christian life has milestones – the day you ‘get saved’, get baptized, the first time you take communion are the obvious ones. But as you look back at your journey farther into God, you’ll find milestones marking other points. These mark times when a truth was illuminated for you in a way that set you free, changed your life.
Here are a few of mine, in mostly chronological order –
The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence – I read this one in high school, and it forever changed my ideas about the Christian life. I saw that we could and should be aware of Him beside us at all times.
Sometime during high school, too, someone said to me “God is a gentleman. He won’t push Himself on us; He waits for us to ask. Gentleness is one of the fruits of the Spirit.” This was the beginning of my trust in God to not hurt me.
Also during high school, I discovered that we can be honest with God about our feelings! I was reading Psalms, and David was whining, crying, bellyaching, even! He took all his emotions straight to God, whether they were nice ones or not. And if David could, I can! And so can you! (Is that why he was ‘a man after God’s own heart’?)
Sometime in adulthood, I read Hind’s Feet On High Places, by Hannah Hurnard. That opened up to me the concept that Father God cares about my emotions, especially when they control me, like fear does for the heroine. That was amazing! God really cares? God really cares!
John 17:3 – not only can we be aware of Him, but eternal life consists of knowing Him! Knowing Him and Jesus, not a bunch of scriptures, or a bunch of rules, or the right things to say and do. Knowing Him in a relationship, not just knowing about Him. Life changing! God actually wants to be known by us, to have a relationship with us!!
Phillipians 2:13 – lots of people quote verse 12, especially when they are trying to control you through fear. But there is no period between v. 12 and v. 13. They are two parts of the same sentence! When I realized this, I stopped stressing about whether I would ever be able to do His will. In fact, I stopped worrying about whether I’d even want to do His will. This verse says He will work in me to bring me to that place. Gently, patiently, lovingly. Really ‘getting’ this verse set me free to trust Him to work in me what needs to be worked; to teach me what I need to learn; to love me not just in spite of my weaknesses, but maybe even because of them (they are, after all, part of what makes me a unique person).
Another verse along these lines, but I’m not sure where it belongs in the timeline, is Hebrews 12:2 — Jesus endured the cross for the ‘joy set before Him’. Okay, I memorized this verse eons ago in Sunday school. So?? So one day He showed me what was the joy set before Him. It was me!! Being able to have a relationship with me (and you, too!) was the joy that enabled Him to endure the cross!!! It wasn’t the joy of beating Satan; it wasn’t the joy of being able to get back to heaven where He belonged; it was the joy of having us as part of the family! What a milestone that was!
I John 3:9 – this one is a little hard to explain, but was the most freeing of any of my ‘milestones’.
It says that the children of God do not sin, because His seed remains in them. What Father showed me through this verse was that we are no longer sinners after we become His children!! So all that stuff I was taught as a child, about how we are always ‘sinners, saved by grace’, and never worthy to be looked at by God without the ‘filter’ of Christ and His blood, was hogwash!!
‘While we were yet sinners’ He loved us so much He died for us! Died so we could become the children of God, become a new creation, become His righteousness!! We are not sinners any more!!
Sure, we sin now and then. We mess up. We may even have addictions or bondages in our lives that He hasn’t dealt with yet, which make us look like sinners to everyone around us. But if you are God’s child, His seed remains in you, and you are no longer a sinner!!!! (And you can ‘take it to the bank’ that He will not leave you bound by that addiction, that sin forever. Just be aware that before dealing with a habitual sin, Father God usually deals with the underlying wrong beliefs/feelings of unworthiness/lies of the enemy that have trapped His child in that sin. When those are dealt with, and His child is free to know and love God and him/herself, the addiction/sin is so easy to deal with that it’s sometimes already gone! God always looks at the heart, not the outer actions! And when He heals the heart, the rest of the person gets healed. Neat, huh? God is so GOOD!)
Wow! The guilt and condemnation and shame that set me free from! To know that I am not bound to/by/in my ‘flesh’!! For the first time in my life, I not only could easily study the Bible and pray, but I could do it without guilt! Before this revelation, prayer and study had been huge battles, because the guilt that I wasn’t doing them often enough/long enough prevented me from even trying to do it.
And now, listening to His voice was easier, because I was no longer afraid He would tell me how awful I was. So my prayer life changed dramatically, and then He started the healing process that got me where I am today. Still not perfect, still not completely whole, but His child, His new creation who is more than a conqueror!
I emphasize this because a lot of us, believing that we are ‘sinners saved by grace’, are constantly defeated by the enemy. Why? Because we believe that our nature is not changed, so we are still subject to sin. We live in a war zone of our own making; one where we lose again and again, simply because we don’t understand how completely He defeated satan and how that victory is ours because His righteousness is ours. But once we understand that we are not sinners anymore, but a new creation, we are free to live the righteousness of Christ! Free to be victorious!
This doesn’t mean we won’t sin. It doesn’t mean we are perfect. In I John 1 is the famous verse that says that if we sin, He is faithful to forgive us when we ask Him. So in I John 3, John seems to be contradicting himself. But he’s not!
We are God’s children. His seed does remain in us. Those are unchangeable facts! We sin because we are unable or unwilling to believe this about ourselves. Unable to believe it because of lies we believe about ourselves or God; unwilling to believe because we don’t want to give up that sin. But neither changes God’s immutable truth – I am His child, therefore I do not sin. And because I am His child, He will work in me to reveal the truth that destroys the lies, and to change my desire for that sin (see Phil. above).
‘Reckon yourselves dead to sin’, Paul says in Romans 6:11. When you grasp this concept with your heart and mind and spirit, not just your brain, it becomes easier to live without sin. If you are dead, then your ‘sin nature’ is dead, too. You no longer feel chained to or by it, so you sin less and less. And as you sin less and less, and fight the phantom battle with your ‘sin nature’ less and less, you will have so much more freedom and strength and power for the real battles of life, for the work Father God created you for, and to reach out to help others.
Every once in a while, it’s good to stop and look back over the road you’ve traveled. You really don’t know how much farther you have to go, but look how far you’ve come!! And if you take note of those milestones that helped you, you can tell others about them, and help them along their journey.
“The safest road to hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” C.S. Lewis
May Father God show you the significant milestones along your road, and give you new ones on the road ahead. May you be able to share those important events and revelations with someone else to help them along their journey. And may you find that even what seemed like rabbit trails away from the road, that you feel were failures or sins, were actually milestones where Father God taught you something important.
Vaya con Dios!
P.S. ‘Vaya’ is the command form of the verb ‘to go’. So this is actually a command for you to go with God – you go with Him, not Him go with you. If we obey this command – going with Him, as He directs, not expecting Him to go with us where we want – our lives are so much easier! So that’s my prayer for you as you continue your journey. Vaya con Dios!