“...But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 (ESV)
My heart seemed to beat as fast as cars on a freight train whiz past behind a crossing arm. The back of my throat felt as dry as a crisp autumn leaf on the ground, severed from its life giving water supply. I gasped, fighting to draw in enough air to expand my lungs and continued to put one foot in front of the other. My ears, sensitive as a fruit bat’s, were on high alert, tuned to hear the beeping of my watch signaling my 30 second reprieve.
Do you run? I started last summer, took a hiatus over the winter, and am back at it this spring. I’m determined to get to the point where I can run continuously for 30 minutes. Apparently it will be a while before I achieve my goal!
Some days are easier than others. This particular day I was tired and fighting a throat infection, but determined to go for my run. I was about two thirds finished, had a gaping hole in my energy bucket, and was fading fast when a bit of this scripture flashed through my mind. “I press on toward the goal for the prize...”
Paul’s not talking about a literal foot race in his letter to the Philippians. He’s talking about perseverance, persistence, and endurance.
Running takes physical endurance. You start out slowly, running in small segments with short breaks in between, allowing your body, your heart, and your lungs to become conditioned. As you build strength and endurance you’re able to run for longer periods of time.
Running takes mental persistence. There are days when I don’t feel 100% but I still have to get my butt out the door and run. I can’t wait around for the perfect temperature, the perfect time, the perfect body, the perfect shoes, the perfect outfit; the perfect...whatever. And there are times when I’m convinced I can’t go any further but I still push myself until I reach the goal...the beeping of my watch telling me I get to walk for 30 seconds.
Paul equates our relationship with Jesus to running a race. It’s our choice to follow Him. Those who make the choice understand Jesus sacrificed Himself so we are forgiven of our sin and free to choose to follow Him.
When you’re running you can’t focus on the pain it took to get to the top of the hill. You focus on the success – you made it to the top. Paul says we can’t live in the past, “...forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead...”.
Apply this in your life. Don’t focus on your past – the pain of your guilt, your shame, your failures; anything that says you’re less of a person. Focus on the future. Focus on what lies ahead. Focus on Jesus and the forgiveness He offers.
Running is about goal setting. So is life with Jesus. Our goal is to draw close to Jesus, to know Him, and to strive to become more like Him. In the garden of Gethsemane, before going to His death, Jesus prayed to God, His Father, “...Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Luke 22:42)
As we draw close to Jesus this becomes our prayer, too. The desires of our hearts align with the desires of God’s heart. He works through us to make those desires reality in the world. How amazing is that!?! God redeems our past and uses us to make a difference in people’s lives!
Father I pray that You would help me to “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”. Amen
“... But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 (ESV)