“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goals.” ~ Henry Ford
We read these words in Philippians 3:13-14: “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Paul was clearly looking ahead rather than dwelling on the past. But that doesn’t mean that Paul has suddenly developed amnesia in the Roman jail. He clearly understood his past and had not forgotten the man he once was, but he did not let his past discourage him or defeat him. He was determined to press on and to keep running the race. Paul was focused on eternity and what awaited him at the end of his life.
We are accustomed to viewing our lives in the order of “past, present, future.” The Bible suggests we should view time as flowing from the future into the present and then into the past. The believer should be future-oriented, “forgetting what lies behind.”
I often wonder if we realize just how mired down in the here and now we have become. Sometimes it’s dark and scary and you’re fumbling around because you feel like you have lost control allowing all kinds of noise and potholes in our lives. Things like broken relationships, money problems, illnesses, and so on. None of those things will matter in eternity. What will matter is whether we lived lives that were pleasing to God.
Paul’s was completely focused on the future. He was pressing toward the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Paul uses the image of a race to describe the Christian life. In verse 12 Paul says, “I press on.” In verse 14 he says, “I press toward the goal.” The idea of the word press is to run swiftly in order to catch a person or thing, to run after. As you know I enjoy a good run. Pressing when running means that you have to give it a little more gas as you try to reach a certain distance at a certain time, or if you are in a race, when you try to overtake another runner. Basically you are running, not just for the exercise, but with a specific goal and purpose in mind. A runner who keeps his or her “eyes on the prize” will stay on track. Similarly, the runner who makes it to the half-way marker and stops there, saying “I made it!” will usually not finish the race.
You may have started the race a few days or a few weeks ago. Or maybe you started the race a long time ago, but somewhere along the way you stopped running. Perhaps you lost your joy or passion. Perhaps you stumbled and fell, or maybe you just got tired and decided to take a break. If you’re temporarily sitting on the sidelines, I encourage you to get back in the race. There’s a Savior to serve and a prize of an eternity with Him to be won.
1. How well are you running the race? Faith is just the beginning of the race we run as Christians. How can we better exercise our faith and put it into practice?
2. Do you run the race with the same passion and commitment as Paul did?
3. How can we start thinking future, present, past rather than the current order of past, present and future?
4. In Philippians 3:13 Paul said “… forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, …” What do you think he meant, and how does it relate to our “pressing on toward the goal …”?
4. Pray and ask God for wisdom to help you on what you can do to press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus?