Milestones become millstones when we do not know how to use them for God.
I have been praying very much these last few days for all those who are sick. So many stories that I hear are about people who are gravely ill and whose whole life has been derailed due to an unexpected illness.
When this happens, often the people for whom I pray express their shock and anger at feeling cheated of time and of life. They mourn the quality of life that they had before and that some of them may never have again. And they are rightfully afraid of all the change this unexpected illness brings.
Suddenly, at these life-changing events – like illness and death – people find themselves at a loss. Many things that they were organising suddenly stop and they do not know where to focus their attention.
My dear Aunt Josephine, in speaking to my mother – her sister – only days before her death from cancer about a decade ago, told Mum that she just could not die right now because she had so much to do, and she had not finished her bookkeeping duties at work…
I pray often for Aunty Josephine – who left us here before she was ready… She is often in my thoughts and prayers.
I am a very organised person. I do not say this out of pride, I say this sheepishly. For me, being organised is the way that I control the uncertainties within my world. The more stressful my world, the more I like to plan. Perhaps there is a little of my Aunty Josephine in me?
This behaviour means that I get a lot of things done, but it also means that I am often exhausted by my own silly attempts to control the controllable!
I give my mother great credit for calmly dealing with this evidence of my growing insanity during my formative years. Perhaps it was my mother’s apparent calmness that ensured that I was in my mid-thirties, before I put one and one together and realised that I am an anxious person!
But with this tendency to plan, comes an overwhelming desire to achieve milestones.
For me, life is a series of quests to accomplish the accomplishable. It is not that I believe that I will be unhappy without those milestones, it is that I need to have something to aim for. I am STRONGLY goal-oriented.
These goals in and of themselves are not the problem. Rather, they can do much good.
The problem comes – for weak people like me – when the milestones become millstones around my neck.
Milestones are positive aspirations as we aim to do better. Millstones are the very large heavy and flat stones that millers traditionally used to grind grains to make flour. The millstones – like the goals – do MUCH GOOD when they are used properly and for their proper purpose. However, when they are used improperly, these tools for GOOD wear me down.
It is as though Christ was thinking of me when he said…
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6).
For though I do not wish to cause another to stumble, my focus is all wrong. I am still looking for what I can achieve – I am looking for MY next milestone… This is PRIDE. If only I had the wisdom and the HUMILITY to look for HIS next milestone – to look at what could be achieved through me...
Then and only then would these milestones accomplish the GOOD of GOD!
Perhaps then I would have the Grace to follow the example of Christ Crucified who said… “It is accomplished. And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” (John 19:30).
For only through God is anything accomplished. All good comes from God.
I must grow in HUMILITY so that HE can achieve HIS milestones through me – for then and only then, will the millstone be lifted from my neck…
For with prayer everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.