“I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 3:13-14 (NRSV)
What an achievement it was for the U.K., to rank second country in the medals league table at the Rio Olympics. And the medal holders have now got something they can be proud of for the rest of their lives.
But what about the rest of us? Only a few people can congratulate themselves on an achievement like this, but everyone has something hidden away that they feel ashamed of and would rather not know about. I have some. I wish I could forget them but I can’t.
The minister who counselled my wife and me for marriage said something which was very comforting. He said, ‘We have memories but God has a forgettory’. When we repent God forgives us and wipes the memory of whatever we had done from His mind. Wouldn’t it be nice if we too had a forgettory. We know we have been forgiven and we know that whatever it is won’t count against us from then onwards, but we can’t put it out of our minds. And it stays there to haunt us. Isn’t that a gloomy thought!
There were certainly things in Paul’s past that he would rather not remember. For example, the memory of how he persecuted the Church of God troubled him for the rest of his life. (I Corinthians 15:9). But he did not let them discourage him. He got his priorities the right way round. His mind was firmly set on what lay ahead. His overriding goal was, as he put it, ‘the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus’. It wouldn’t be easy. But he knew that he could now concentrate on the job that lay ahead. His goal was to strain forward to achieve it. He used the verbs “straining forward” and “pressing on” to emphasise the effort involved. But the past lay behind him and was not a hindrance. With God’s grace the prize of His heavenly call in Christ Jesus can be ours too.
Loving Father, you know our weaknesses and how our failings weigh upon our minds. We ask You to free us from earthly anxieties so that we can make the prize of our heavenly calling our top priority.
Study by Christopher Reeve
About the Author:
Chris Reeve is assistant pastor of the Invicta (Blean) Congregation, which is part of Grace Communion International/Worldwide Church of God UK, where his wife, Hilary accompanies him.
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Phone: 07473 188326