I was reminded the other day of a verse that I have memorized to heart many years ago.
“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. 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.”
As I was driving down the street (at a manageable speed….okay….I confess….I was speeding! But, I wasn’t going super fast…does that count for anything?) Anyway, ahead of me I saw the stop light and for whatever reason, I misjudged my stopping point. I had to really press my brakes hard to avoid hitting the car in front of me. I caught myself doing something that I have done on many occasions at a stop light…I was looking in my rear view mirror instead of what was ahead of me.
Several years back while I was stopped at a light, I was rear-ended by a truck…it actually drove up the back of my van! From that point on every time I was at a stop-light, I would focus on what was behind me rather than on what lay ahead.
How often do we do the same in our lives when it comes to our past?
We find ourselves looking in the rear view mirror of life making sure what is behind us doesn’t slam into us.
Trust me…of all the people in this world…I know that looking forward can sometimes be a harder task to accomplish than not looking back. Looking forward can often times seem so scary…there are a lot of “what if’s” and uncertainties. The past often times brings comfort…no matter how terrible a past can be! Don’t think yourself strange if you find comfort in your past…we all do!
Paul made Philippians 3:13-14 sound so easy, doesn’t he? Or is it in my imagination as I read these bible stories or letters from these great apostles…I find myself thinking somehow they were “super-human”? I mean….many of them walked literally with Jesus…sat at his feet and was taught how to live…they were the ones who spread the gospel…who died for it….the ones who penned the very words on paper! Yet…I have to remind myself they were merely humans like you and me!
Take a look at Philippians 3:13-14 again..what are two words that describe a struggle of any sort?
Yep…you guessed it! Straining and Press!
What that says to me is that Paul struggled as well with looking ahead and not to his messy past! I don’t know if you know much about Paul, but he was one of the messiest people in the Bible. (He is one of my favorite people to study as well!!)
This straining and pressing I believe is the work of the Holy Spirit. He stretches us…many times to the point that we think we might break. He pushes us to a point of feeling so uncomfortable that we desire the comforts of what was behind.
I can only guess your question is the same as mine:
How do we forget what is behind and strain and press forward?
The only answer I know is to keep our eyes focused on the Prize!
Jesus, I really need your help! Many times my sight is focused on looking back to my past…instead of what you have for me in the future. Lord, your word says that the Holy Spirit will teach me all things (John 14:26)…I pray Holy Spirit you would teach me how to keep my eyes focused on the Prize…which is Christ Jesus. Amen