I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 3: 12-14 The apostle Paul was running a race.
The football season is finishing up playoffs in preparation for the Superbowl. We know the hard work and perseverance that goes into being an athlete at that level.
But Paul was running a more important race, one that began when he was struck down on the road to Damascus, surrounded by a heavenly light and the voice of Jesus.
Again, the paradox. He began his race by falling down, overwhelmed by his experience. When he got up, he was blind. Three days later the Lord sent Ananias to pray and lay hands on Paul. Paul’s sight was restored, he was filled with the Holy Spirit, baptized into the faith and ready to fulfill God’s purpose for his life.
Paul forged ahead. He had a history of pride, of persecuting believers, of being hated and reviled. He did a lot of things wrong! But he repented, and now he had a purpose. Because of Paul’s past, many believers didn’t trust him. But now he had a chance to make amends, and to demonstrate the sincerity of his faith and love. He couldn’t let the past hold him back or bog him down.
My brothers and sisters, I know our lives are filled with past mistakes, sin, pain, regret, and hurtful things done to us or by us. I also know that God forgives and redeems and urges us forward.
He promises, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” —1 John 1:9
“Life can only be understood backward; it must be lived forward.” —Soren Kierkegaard 1
- Quoted in: Living Quotations for Christians, edited by Sherwood Eliot Wirt and Kersten Beckstrom, copyright 1974, Harper and Row Publishers, Inc.,New York, NY., p. 144, ref. 1940.