I am not an athlete. Oh, I am coordinated … a reasonable skier--water and snow--a strong skater, decent racquetball player, but that’s about it. In small ways, I have lived vicariously through my four children’s athletic pursuits and competitions, which have included baseball, basketball, softball, soccer, volleyball, body-boarding, roller-hockey, MMA, a brief foray into diving and various snowboarding fetes. I love watching sports on television, and listen to a fair amount of sports talk on the radio, Colin Cowherd of late.
With that said, I have often wished I could experience some of the moments great athletes experience—like stepping to the plate with a bat in my hands, only to see the outfielders back up, knowing I could crack a triple into deep left centerfield; or like running with every fiber of my being, aware of the footfalls on my heels, but pressing on to be the first to break the tape at the finish line; or collecting a soccer ball at my knees, controlling it enough to hook a hard shot with my right foot from 30 feet out, and sending it far-post into the net. Oh, those would be glorious moments!
Great as those moments would be, they pale in comparison to crossing the finish line of life, breaking the tape with my chest and landing on the other side, among godly finishers from all eternity . . . yep, now that needs to be what I am ‘aiming at’—or, as Paul said, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
Ah, Paul . . . you know, God’s ways are so brilliant. Think of how Jesus lived, loved and taught, and then charged his followers to take the ‘good news’ into all the world … in short order, he sent the Holy Spirit to equip them and so that he could be ever-present with them … and then, God appointed Paul as the first missionary who took the Gospel on the road.
Ah, Paul . . . So much of our understanding of the Christian path comes to us from Paul, who was personally confronted and then instructed by Jesus Christ. On his way to Damascus, (Acts 9), Jesus got Paul’s attention, and changed the trajectory of his life, from hater of those who followed Christ to a sold-out follower of Christ himself . . . yea, a teacher of just what it means to be a Christian and how to be victorious in the Christian life.
From Paul, we get 13 letters, or about a third of the New Testament. He gave us the “tions” to describe how God changes us: salvation – a gift from God, not attainable through the Law or even through good works on our part;
justification – Jesus settles the balance sheet of our souls, making us right with God; and sanctification – the process the Holy Spirit works out in us as we stay close to him in this life; so that transformation is then indeed possible, as we morph from chrysalis to butterfly, spiritually speaking.
About his own walk with God, Paul tells us, “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us." Philippians 3.12-14
I love that — forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on... looking through the windshield instead of being fixated on the rearview mirror.
To grow fully, we must believe what God says about us, who he says we are and where we are going - eyes on the horizon. Are you pressing on or is something holding you back? Could it be guilt or shame? Confess it, give it to God, leave it with him, and don’t let your fear or sanctimonious pride permit you to pick that guilt back up again! Could it be words spoken over you or to you that have crippled you? In Jesus Christ, you are more than a conqueror! Romans 8.37
Make every day count... press on... be faithful. Break the tape at the finish line of your life, in full stride, with a strong gait, running into the arms of your Lord,
who will say, “Well done.” Yep, now that’s a great thing to aim at.
Perfect song: Well Done, The Afters, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X29hPMgKUyM
Let's do this!