“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: No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”
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.”
Sometimes we get mired down in the here and now. Sometimes it’s dark and scary and we’re fumbling around because we feel like we have lost control allowing all kinds of noise and potholes in our life. 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 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 1 14 Paul says, “I press on.” The idea of the word press is to run swiftly in order to catch a person or thing, to run after. 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.
You may have started the race a few days or a few months 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, get back in the race. There’s a Savior to serve and a prize of an eternity with Him in the future.
- Discussion questions:
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?
- How can we start thinking of the future, present, and past rather than the current order of past, present, and future?