Forgetting what is behind…

Philippians 3: 13b-14 But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Growing up in Canada I have always appreciated the various seasons.  Many complain when the white stuff hits the ground, but I’ve always been a fan of winter, mainly because of winter sports.  I enjoy watching and participating in winter sports.  Downhill skiers impress me because they are just a little insane.  The men’s downhill races often see top speeds that exceed 90 miles per hour!  When you’re flying down a hill at those speeds your eyes better be focused on the track ahead of you.  I never raced downhill, but I did compete in cross country ski races.  When people picture cross country skiing, many think of people strapping some skis on their feet and slowly walking through fields in knee deep snow, but racing is something very different.  I recall a few races where my heart was in my throat.  X-Country racing skis are extremely thin, and only the front of the boots are affixed to the ski, so unlike downhill skis, the heel of the boot is free to move around making it tough to turn quickly.  I recall flying down hills through forests on a path wide enough for only one skier.  We snaked down hills at top speed with no idea what was around the corner.  Sometimes I’d find a pile-up of skiers around the bend and I’d have to quickly calculate whether there was room to go around them without hitting a tree or whether I’d have to bail out and slide in.

The last thing I was doing as I flew downhill through the forest, and the last thing a downhill skier would ever do, is look back while racing.  Turning your head backwards for even a fraction of a second would likely be catastrophic.  Eyes need to be firmly fixed on the path ahead.

In today’s scripture, the apostle Paul is writing to the church in Philippi.  He tells them in Philippians 3: 10-11 that he wants to “know Christ” and the power of his resurrection.  He goes on to say:

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 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, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:12-14

Paul warned the Philippians about the dangers of looking back.  Like Paul, we can look back and say I’ve “already arrived at my goal” and we can become complacent Christians.  “I accepted Christ into my heart, I am going to heaven one day, now I can just put my life on cruise control.”.  But Paul says we need to “press on”, we need to continue the good fight (1 Timothy 6:12), not just lead a life of self-regard.  We can also look back at disappointments, pain or even sin, and get stuck in a rut.  If we have genuinely confessed our sins to God, we can’t stay in a place of shame.  Satan would be happy to derail us and keep us wallowing in our shame because in that place we are ineffective.  We need to know and be ready to quote God’s truth.  Hebrews 8:12 says: “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

God has so much good in store for you (1 Corinthians 2:9), no matter where you came from, no matter what you went through, no matter what your sins were.  If you are living a life of repentance, then you have no reason to look back, but instead “forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead”.

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