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!
Angela- wow I so needed to hear these encouraging words today. As a mom I feel guilt like never before, it feels like I can never do or be enough to my girls, husband, work, family, friends, etc. I mess up all the time and get impatient with my family. But God- he know I’m forgiven and each day I can leave it behind, I don’t need to carry my mistakes with me everyday and make my luggage bigger, I can lay down the heavy load and forgive myself, I can get rid of the guilt. Loving this study of Philippians – my favorite chapter of the Bible. Thanks for all you do!!
Good morning Jessica! Isn’t it a beautiful thing that every day is a new day with Jesus?! We are always going to mess up, but we are forgiven and that forgiveness means we don’t have to carry it around like weights on our backs. Being a parent is not easy so have some grace on yourself, and take a deep breath and just ask for guidance when needed. Hugs to you! Have a blessed day!
Jessica, I feel the same exact way. I needed these words.
Beautiful reminder of our purpose amongst the noise… Thank you!
Love what you said here! The noise can be so big and loud, but our God is bigger! Sometimes the noise can be so loud we just need to stop and be still and remember our purpose and listen to what he is whispering to us. I’m going to write your words on my refrigerator to read this week! Have a beautiful day!
Mondee ~LGG Encourager
Love this thought following today’s blog which is exactly ‘for the day’. Especially here in Texas as we are reeling from Sunday’s tragedy. How beautiful to be in the Family of God…..
Wasn’t this a beautiful and much needed message! Thank you for sharing and being with us today. Praying for all those effected by the recent shooting in Texas. God Bless You!
Don’t forget we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses that is cheering us on to finish our race. Heb 12:1. It’s comforting to me to think that my many loved ones who have gone on before me are standing at the finish line cheering me on.
Twila you are so right, we have our loved ones in Heaven watching over us and our family in Christ here on Earth helping and cheering us on! Thank you for joining us and sharing!
I love that imagery of all my family and friends who have passed and will pass before me, standing at the finish line cheering me on. Thank you for that. This is why I love this group so much because there is such a wide variety of women in different stages of life and walks with Christ. We can all encourage one another at one point in our studies. God Bless!
Ah, to have the reminder that we are leading a grace filled life through Christ. When we wander off due to various things, we are forgiven and accepted. Forgetting the past and leaving it in the past is hard, but with prayers and daily time with the Lord it’s possible. Thanks for today, it’s the exact words I needed.
Thank you for sharing and being here with us today. This message is needed daily for me. We are often our own worse critics and harder on ourselves than we need to be. Praying that we are able each day to be better at forgiving ourselves and putting the past behind us. God Bless You!
Thank you for this. I need to continually and daily let go of perfomance expectation that I’ve put in myself. That ache to be seen successful in the eyes of the world. The desire for people to know the ideal me whilst suppressing the real me. It has robbed me of genuine connections because all my life I felt i needed to prove that I’m a good person or I qualified to be in a certain position. That fear of failure that made me not take that step because I was too scared of disappointing people. Now I am grateful for the peace that came flooding in my heart when I realised that all I needed was to abide in Him and let Him take charge of my life. Now I press toward the mark of the high calling.
Oh what joy I’ve found in you my Jesus
That my soul could entertain your greatness
Should this life hold nothing but my savior
I will praise you always
Manoti, thank you so much for sharing with us! It is so difficult to let go of what society says we should be and instead turn to what God tells us to be. We are so glad you are here and have shared your thoughts with us!
Thank you so much for being with us and sharing your inspiring words! We can put so much pressure on ourselves that we become completely paralyzed to move forward. Fear is dibilitating, but God can overcome any obstacles we have. God Bless You!
Thank you, Angela. I needed to read this today!
Jen , thank you for joining us!
God’s timing is perfect…how the past has recently crushed my Spirit. But, God’s words through you have renewed and refocused my mind! Thank you Angela and praise our Heavenly Father in Jesus name!
Netty, prayers for you as you go through this time. As you said, you have the Word to help you through this and to help you stay focused. Thank you for joining us!
It’s such a blessing how God speaks to us in the most mysterious ways. I have not been doing the Bible study in a while and I picked up today and just felt like he was speaking to my heart through your words and he words of God. I really needed this.
Jenzo, we all get neglectful and allows other things to come before our word with God, isn’t it great that He is so forgiving and knows what we need when we need it? Today’s blog hit home with me as well. Thank you so much for joining us! We so appreciate you.
Angela and all the staff at LGG, thank you so much for allowing me to facilitate my very first Bible Study. It has been such as a blessing. I didn’t reach many, but I pray those I did reach were just as blessed as I was.
We are all on different journeys in our faith but never one better than the other. We all fight different battles and it is our choice to let Heaven make us or Satan break us. I choose to press through to my break through not only for myself but those who trust themselves to me in prayer.
My past does not define who I am My God does!!
April, thank YOU for joining us and stepping out in faith and leading! All it takes is one life to be reached. Thank you for sharing your journey with us!