Life's Highway Markers

Years ago, when my sister and her husband lived in Watertown, MA., I regularly drove there. Leaving on a Thursday or Friday, driving back into Madison on Sunday when everyone was tucked away silently in bed. After the first few times, the drive had become habitual, calculated down to the minute.

Now, I'm not one for knowing street names and highway route numbers from memory. Those kind of things tend to get all jumbled about inside my mind. I'm all about landmarks. A PNC bank on the left? Check. A CVS? Check - Check. A row of bushes. I'll take even that. So after a year or so of driving back and forth to Watertown, I became an expert of things in between 07940 and 02477. My sister and her family have since moved to Michigan and weekend trips now entail a plane ride. So I have forgotten what a "longer" drive on the highway feels like.

Last Sunday, my parents and I set off for Martha's Vineyard before the sun had risen. In the early morning hours, as we sped past highway markers and each town introduced itself with a giant green exit sign, a reoccurring thought of mine appeared - yet again.

It has always amazed me, when I actually really truly think about the numbers - how many people there are on the earth - millions upon millions. All leading their own lives simultaneously ____

As we passed town after town, the fog that clung to the hills slowly lifted, and you could see people starting out their days. Each of them with different jobs and daily struggles, different hopes and aspirations for the future. What is amazing to think about is how God has created each and every one of us. And loves each and every one of us. All the millions upon millions. He knows the number of hairs on our heads. And when on one sinner repents as Luke 15 says, there is rejoicing in heaven. With all the people who inhabit this planet, God knows each one of us. He knit [us] together in [our] mothers' wombs.

At the same time that we consider the vast number of people living here, we are faced with life's brevity. With the millions of us on the planet, can the loss of one - change much? Anyone who has lost someone special in their lives knows the answer to the question. It can change everything. A few years back, one of my closest teaching friends, lost her husband suddenly, without warning. As a friend and I visited her, she spoke words I will never forget. "What makes this so hard, is that everyone's lives around me keep moving on." Like the highway markers, they become a blur at a certain speed - they continue, and don't stop. All she wanted was to be able to press pause - have all the motion stop around her.

Life is a gift we have been given. Our lives are not our own - we are here to be "God's hands and feet". With this gift, we must capture each opportunity we are given. And not take for granted anything - anyone - anywhere.

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