My youngest son Bryce began to crawl when he was approximately 7 months old. Of course a huge milestone for a baby and a mommy!
I clearly remember on one occasion when Bryce crawled a short distance towards a little toy that he desired. When he reached the toy, he grabbed it with his left hand. He seemed quite content with his newly found toy and then after a brief period of time, he lost interest.
He then he saw another toy in front of him that he desired. This time he attempted to move forward but was unsuccessful because he was still holding onto the first toy.
He just couldn’t figure out that he needed to let go of the toy he was holding onto in order to propel himself forward! Holding this toy prevented him from moving forward and reaching his goal.
Hmmm…sound familiar? Anyone?
Just like Bryce holding onto this toy prevented him from moving forward…many times we too similarly hold onto things that prevent us from moving forward….moving forward into the purpose…the plans… and ultimately the destiny that God has for us.
Are you holding onto something that is holding you back from moving forward in your life today?
Are you holding onto something that is preventing you from moving forward in your relationship with Jesus and moving toward spiritual maturity?
Are you stuck in your past and having a hard time moving passed your past?
In the book of Philippians, the apostle Paul… acknowledging that he himself has not yet arrived (Philippians 3:12)…shares 3 actions that help him….and can help us…in moving forward and progressing toward the plans and purposes God has for us….progressing toward Christlikeness and spiritual maturity.
But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:13-14 ESV
Action One: Forgetting what lies behind
Forgetting what lies behind…forgetting our past…getting passed our past…is easier said than done, isn’t it?
Especially if we are holding onto deep hurts…a painful experience…failures…mistakes…guilt …unforgiveness…or even sin!
It may be hard to move forward but if we keep holding onto our past, it will prevent us from moving forward…just like Bryce holding his toy prevented him from moving forward!
Forgetting can be defined as “disregarding intentionally; overlooking.”
We can’t change our past (as much as we may really want to!)…and in order to get passed our past, we need to be intentional…intentional about forgetting our past and intentional about changing the meaning of our past.
The past teaches us many valuable lessons…lessons about God…lessons about life…lessons about ourselves. We are to learn from what lies behind, and then take those lessons and move ahead… progressing toward Christlikeness and spiritual maturity.
Notice the verb tense of the word “forgetting”…it is present continuous. Hint: our past experiences and events don’t necessarily get erased from our minds…we must continually be intentional about “forgetting” our past when we find ourselves dwelling…hanging on…holding on…to our past.
We will certainly face challenges and difficult circumstances in our life…some we have control over and some we do not. But it’s our response in the present…our actions in the future…which determine the meaning of the events in our past.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 NIV
God will use our past…the good…the bad…and the ugly…and He will use not just “some things” but “all things” for our good!
God will use our past to encourage us and strengthen our faith. God will use our past to be relatable to others and give us the opportunity to share what we have faced to minister to others.
Action 2: Straining forward to what lies ahead
It’s interesting to note the word “straining” used here. Straining implies that moving forward to what lies ahead may not necessarily be an easy task!
Straining can be defined as “exerting to the utmost; stretching to maximum extension; stretching beyond the proper point or limit.”
Sure doesn’t sound like a stroll in the park, huh?
Have you ever felt stretched in your attempts to move forward…stretched in your attempts to move forward to what lies ahead…stretched in your attempts to fulfill the purpose and calling that God has for your life?
When Paul talks about “straining forward to what lies ahead” the context of his words suggests a runner racing toward the finish line. Paul fixes his eyes on the goal…living for Christ, becoming more and more like Christ and growing spiritually mature. And with all his energy…mental, emotional, and physical…he is committed, focused, and disciplined to running this race.
Leaving in God’s hands the elements of our past…which can hold us back and drain us of mental, emotional, and physical energy…is an important step in the race toward living for Christ, becoming more like Christ, and growing in spiritual maturity.
Action 3: Press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
God has a plan and purpose for each and every one of us! He says…
I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. Jeremiah 29:11 Message
Press on means “to act upon through steady pushing; to follow through; to force or push one’s way; active and earnest endeavor.”
To press on toward the goal of Christlikeness and spiritual maturity…like Paul… is a race we will run for the rest of our lives. And pressing on…pushing forward…following through… can seem difficult…But God hasn’t left us alone!
We are to draw on God’s grace and strength every step of the way. And only then we will persevere!
But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31 NIV
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:4 NIV
We are all a work in progress…especially when our goal is to become more Christ-like and progress to spiritual maturity. Let’s follow Paul’s example so that we may run this race…called life…fixing our eyes on Christ to reach the goal and ultimately the purpose that God has for each of us.
“I may not be where I need to be but I thank God I am not where I used to be.” Joyce Meyer
I am sure we can all say amen to that!
1) Are you holding onto something that is holding you back from moving forward in your life today?
2) Are you holding onto something that is preventing you from moving forward in your relationship with Jesus and moving toward spiritual maturity?
3) Are you stuck in your past and having a hard time moving passed your past?
Review the 3 Action Points that Paul shares to help you forget what lies behind…move passed your past…strain forward to what lies ahead…and press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus!