Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead… I press on to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:13-14
Can you imagine the guilt Paul must have faced once he realized the magnitude of his sin? He had held the coats of those who held stones in their hands and killed Stephen – all while Paul stood back and watched. He willingly held their coats. He approved of their horrific crime. No, he didn’t just approve. He thought they were all doing the right thing; doing their part to stop the spread of Christianity.
Yet after his encounter with Jesus on that lonesome, dusty road in Acts 9, Paul’s life turned a complete 180. Those he was once against, he was now for. Those who were once enemies – now after meeting Jesus – were family.
I wonder if he ever struggled with the memories of that day? Did certain smells – or the sound the wind makes as it rustles the leaves – trigger memories of the day Steven was stoned to death?
And I wonder if it was those memories that fueled his laser-like focus on what really mattered in life: running his race well and finishing strong.
I’m sure Paul had a lot of memories he wanted to leave behind. He knew what it meant to intentionally choose to forget what was behind him and to STRAIN toward what was ahead. He had received God’s forgiveness and grace, but he also had to extend that same forgiveness and grace to himself. He had to embrace it, believe it, and no longer allow it to have any power over his life. He had to willingly choose to forget and leave the regret, the pain, and the guilt in his past or he could not move forward.
And like Paul, we must do the same.
There is a strain in the going forward. But once we seek God’s forgiveness we must embrace it, believe it, and allow the past to stay in the past. I know you’re tempted, but don’t bring it into the future with you.
“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead…”
We must strain forward; forward in letting go, forward in embracing the forgiveness found only in Jesus, and forward into a new life with Christ.
Paul lost his religion and reputation on that dusty road – everything he once held dear in life – but he gained far more than he lost.
He gained Christ.
And just like Paul, Jesus meets us on our “dusty” roads of life, interrupting our travel plans for a new life that is filled with forgiveness, purpose, and unexplainable joy. It’s a call – not to religious perfection – but rather to a grace-filled race as we journey with Jesus.
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect…” – Philippians 3:12
Friend, let go of the baggage of your past that is weighing you down. Let go of the performance expectations you are putting on yourself. None of us will “arrive” until the day we see Jesus face to face. Until then we run, we strain, we press on toward heaven.
We run our best races and encourage others in theirs. We realize life is not a sprint, but a marathon. We keep our goal in mind as we focus on what lies ahead. We realize some portions of the race might be harder than others; at some points we slow down and in other stretches we speed up… and that’s okay. It’s not the speed at which we run our race, but the fact that we stay in it and press on in those hard days in order to win the prize.
So here is our race strategy:
- Forget what is behind.
- Strain toward what is ahead.
- Press into Jesus.
You’ve got it, girl!! Cheering you on as you run your race for God’s glory!
Love God Greatly!