Susie, my sister who lives in Rochester, Minn., has a friend from her church that has recently gone through radiation treatments. All along Susie has kept up with her friend and been part of the support system for this precious friend. Susie e-mailed me an interesting as well as heart warming observation just last week.
Susie said that at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester there is a large brass captain’s bell in the lobby of the radiation therapy department. The bell represents an important milestone for all those undergoing radiation treatments for cancer. As a cancer patient completes her last radiation treatment, she rings the captain’s bell on her entry into the lobby. As those in the lobby hear the ringing of that bell, they react with words of encouragement: “Yeah! Congratulations! You did it! Good for you! Whoop-eee!” Then these cheers from all the people in the lobby are followed by applause and a standing ovation from fellow patients waiting in the lobby. “Ringing the captain’s bell” becomes a milestone that every cancer patient eagerly anticipates.
What are the milestones in your life? This time of year, many parents are thinking about certain milestones. That little girl who was a kindergartner only yesterday it seems is today a first-grader. That oldest child has moved off to college. That youngest son has graduated from college. I heard someone the other day say: “Our little Ginny is in first grade. My … where has the time gone?”
Then there are other milestones. The baby sleeps all night … a credit card is paid in full … your daughter’s braces are removed … your spouse’s tour to Iraq is completed … you stopped smoking … your first Social Security check is automatically deposited … your teenager earns a driver’s license, or … your elderly parent decides the time has come to stop driving.
Other milestones may be more difficult. Susie and I had a cousin, Dr. Diane Rivers, who died two years after extensive chemotherapy and radiation for cancer. She reached many milestones in her life — wife, mother, highly educated. Yet, she faced the milestone of death even unto the end as a witness and testimony to the Savior she loved and the God she served.
Life is made up of milestones and as we grow older we go through those in sequence. Some milestones we know we will cross — others we never imagine that we will encounter them. Some milestones are blissful, even joyous and some are strenuous and challenging.
The wonderful news is though that all the milestones in our lives — God knows! He knows which ones we will cross. In addition, he knows ahead of time because God has a plan for us. He knew us before we were born. He knew the milestones in our life even before our parents were born. He knows where those milestones will fit into our life. He said: “For I know the plans I have for you … plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,” Jeremiah 29:11. (KJV) This same verse in The Message says it this way: “This is God’s Word on the subject: ‘I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out — plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.’”
In that light, it is worth ringing the bell and letting everyone know that God is with us, He is taking care of us, He loves us and He has our best interests at heart.