Day 14: “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.” (Phil 3:13-14)
These were the verses I chose to be read over me at the graduation ceremony for Capernwray Harbour Bible School. At the time, I felt it really told the story of my life and the new start I had made in the last little while. My year at the Bible school was such a healing time for me and a place where I felt I was living into God’s will for the first time in many years instead of fighting it. It seemed I could finally begin to put those hard years behind me and push on toward the new life God had put in front of me through Christ’s transforming power in my life.
Now, I can look back and see other hard times that have come and gone since my Bible school days. And yet this verse is not any less valid to me because of them. The beginning of Phil 3:13 says “I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it” and this idea rings true for me as well. There will always be hard times, either as consequences of my poor choices or as the reality of living in a fallen world. “Either way you are still in the mess,” as my church’s senior pastor, Richard Dahlstrom, often says. And I believe it is how a person chooses to live his or her life in the midst of this “mess” that makes all the difference!
For me, Philippians 3:13-14 really embodies how I have chosen to live my life while in the mess: with God’s grace for my past and Christ’s hope for my future. To realize that, while I have not yet reached God’s end goal for me (and likely never will in this life), I can keep “pressing on.” Hebrews 12:1 also says it well, “Therefore, … let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
And what do all the twists and turns of my particular race look like? That is a question I don’t think I will ever fully know until I take my last breath. But I can rest in the assurance that God does know and is reaching out His hand to help me along that journey, as long as I choose to accept it.
This past Sunday, I heard a speaker on the Christian radio station talking about the purpose for our life. He said something to the effect that if we are still breathing then we have not yet achieved our purpose in life. And if we have not yet achieved it then God still has something planned for us to do on this earth. And if God still has plans for us then we can be certain that the best part of our life is yet to come. I loved that sentiment! Therefore, I can “forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead” knowing that the best for my life is yet to come.
“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.” (Phil 3:13-14)