Birthdays are an annual reminder of the time we have spent on the path of life. They make us look backward in time, more so with increasing age. But that need not be so. We should learn to treat birthdays more like milestones. Milestones never tell us how far we have travelled. They keep us informed of the distance to our destination. They make us look forward with excitement and anticipation. How will the destination be like? How much time will it take to reach there? Is our speed all right? Are there any signs of our approaching the place?
The journey of life unfolds itself like a tv serial or like a novel, and its attraction lies in the unknown episodes or chapters. But life is not like a mystery or a thriller, because the ending is known and the situations just keep building up to an expected climax.
Lord Jesus had warned against the temptation to look back in life. His words were clear: “No one who puts his hand to the plough, but then keeps looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62) Life is in the future, not in the past.
St Paul, writing about himself, had said that he may not have arrived at his goal, or he may not have taken hold of it. “But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal.” (Phil 3:12-14)
And what if the road ahead looks foggy or if one would have to negotiate steep slopes and dangerous turns? This is what David had to say in one of his psalms:
“I will praise the Lord, who counsels me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. My heart is glad and my tongue rejoices, my body also will rest secure… You will show me the path of life. In your presence is fullness of joy. At your right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16:7-11)