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.
Philippians 3:13-14 NIV
Too many times, we allow hurt, not hope to influence our future. Hurts are often born from disappoints, detours and distractions. A. B. Simpson writes, “One of Satan’s favorite employees is the switchman. He likes nothing better than to side-track one of God’s express trains, sent on some blessed mission and filled with the fire of a holy purpose. Something will come up in the pathway of the earnest soul, to attract its attention and occupy its strength and thought.”.
The apostle’s clarity, confession and commitment allowed him the strategy to subdue the enemy and succeed with an eternal effort.
Proper Focus. Humility is our heart’s cry. Paul admitted that he had not yet arrived . . . but, he was on his way with abandonment to the Almighty. All of his prominence, position and pedigree we’re forsaken . . . given up . . . for a life of grace. He writes, “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” (Phil 3:8 NIV) All became as garbage so he might gain. Paul traded his self successes for his Savior’s satisfaction.
Practice Forgetting. Our past sins can incarcerate us and our previous successes can inflate us. God wants us to let go and leave so He can remove the effect of our yesterday and encourages us in our today. In reflecting on our past pains and problems, the prophet Isaiah tells us, “But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun . . .” (Is 43:18-19 NLT) Samuel Smiles writes, “Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us.” Paul reminds us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor 5:17 NIV)
Push Forward. Enslavement to our past does not allow us to embrace our future. We are people of direction. When we reach forward we let go of what is behind. Paul uses two phrases to describe his purpose . . . “straining toward” and “press on”. Intensity and intentionality. The psalmist strove for the same passionate pursuit. He writes, “The one thing I ask of the LORD — the thing I seek most— is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, delighting in the LORD’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.” (Ps 27:4 NLT)
Paul’s destiny was determined by his desire. He passionately pursued Jesus.
Songwriter Chris Tomlin penned the following:
My Chains are gone, I’ve been set free.
My God, my Savior has ransomed me.
And like a flood His mercy reigns,
Unending love, Amazing grace
Don’t be chained to past hurt and heartache . . . charge ahead and claim victory with hope. That will be a defining moment.