Phillipians 3:13-14 NIV
13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
I am hoping, at 59, that I am not the “know-it-all” I was at 29. Don’t we all think we are so wise and knowledgeable at one point? Yet, here Paul, who knew more about Christ than most of us do in a lifetime, was not foolish to think he had attained what God designed. It is a lifelong journey to gain what he talks about in Philippians 3 – to fully know Christ and the power of His resurrection. I find this passage so encouraging. No matter when we start, or where we are in the journey, we all get to spend a lifetime understanding Him and His power. There are new things to learn and begin every day of every year.
As a new Christian, 47 years ago, I was told to put aside childish things. I thought this meant I was to ignore what I was taught and forget about the past. It was a poor understanding of what Paul meant here and elsewhere. Hebrews 6:1 describes this forgetting as leaving elementary doctrine and moving to maturity.
In our ministry with couples, Pam and I often find people weighed down trying to avoid their past instead of embracing it. If I do not take time to learn from my family of origin and upbringing, I miss a humongous part of who God made me. He gave us amazing brains that can create meaning from our past, while looking forward. It is not, “I move ahead, but avoid the past.” It is “I move ahead AND I appreciate my past.” As I hold onto the “good stuff,” I can let go of the things that are not helpful for me today.
In the past, when I considered what it was like to press on in ancient Greek times, I did not have an accurate picture. I assumed athletics were leisurely and athletes moderately engaged. But this was not so. Imagine, as a runner, going full speed ahead for half a mile in full armor weighing at least sixty pounds. And then running in loose sand for a few more miles. In other sports, there were no time limits, no rounds, no rest periods, and no respite from the midsummer sun. Obviously, the hearers of this passage knew something about pressing on.
The task of beginning again and again and again to walk with the Lord and follow His ways is not for the faint of heart. Paul knew that it was work. So, let us not pretend we have arrived or even that we know what to do today to get there. As you and I begin today’s job of pressing on toward the prize – let us encourage each other, and all the more as we see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:25). It is okay if it seems like more prep work than we can manage. It is okay if the past is a lot to hurdle over.
We can get bogged down in the sand with all the weight upon us. AND, yet, what a privilege to be in this race that is such a high calling. We run each step in the power of the Holy Spirit and when we read to the end of scripture, we know that we actually do win! So, come on, you can do this with me.
Prayer: Lord, help us. We have a lot of baggage, and plenty of wasted time. We have not always taken this race seriously. We have tried to run it all alone. And yet, You call us to begin again. Right now, today. You would not have challenged us to it if You did not also know that we could do it. In Christ, we have what we need before we even lace up the strings! We are so excited that we get to know You and obtain Your resurrection. Wow, what a race this is going to be! Amen.