“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. 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.”
I remember memorizing the scripture when my kids were little. We live in a town that had no children’s ministry in the summer, so we didn’t go to church. Instead we did scripture memory and Bible study at home. I had fellowship online with other Christian mommies. It is also when I started the habit of journaling scriptures.
Today, I read this passage as part of a devotional by Rick Renner entitled Truthfully Assessing Your Situation. He made two points that really stuck out to me. Paul was saying “despite all I have done for Christ and the Kingdom of God, I haven’t done everything.” He knew the circumstances he was in would pass because he had a vision from God of what he still needed to do. God had showed Paul there was more work for him to do.
I know in my own life, there are things God has called me to do that I have not done yet. Unlike Paul, I know I am the one standing in the way, not circumstances that are trying to keep me from fulfilling God’s plan for my life. Part of it is lack of follow through on my part. The other is that I make excuses about not having time. Both are just disobedience. Regardless of my schedule and my lack of discipline, when something is important I can do it. I have to make the choice to prioritize what God has called me to do. I have to chose to stop wasting time.
It is easy for me to look at Paul’s life up to this letter to the Philippians and count all that he has done as complete. He knew different. He knew he had not apprehended.
It doesn’t matter how productive other people think I am. One day I will stand before God and give account for all the things He told me to do that I failed to do. The things I busy my time with that are not from Him, will not matter. God has been speaking to me about this in my pattern of wasting the time He has blessed me with on this earth.
The second point Rick Renner made was something that never crossed my mind. Paul said “forgetting those things which are behind.” I have always thought of this as Paul forgetting the sinful life he had of deceiving and killing believers. The devotion pointed out that it wasn’t the sinful life that Paul was talking about.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
Paul was a new creation in Christ. His past was already forgiven and forgotten. New things don’t have a past. Paul was saying he had to forget the past things that he had done for the Kingdom so that he could keep pressing on to the plans God had before him, the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Paul couldn’t get stagnate focusing on all he had already accomplished, there was too much for him to do still for God.
That really hit me because I have caught myself lately talking more about my past work for the Kingdom instead of focusing on what is before me today and what I need to do going forward. Complacency is what I call it. Not that there are not things I am doing now, but I know there are other things I need to be doing also.
I need to stop holding on to the things I have done over the past thirty-eight years. It is not enough to have “been there, done that.” I need to be pressing forward to what God has for me today and what I need to build on for the plans He has already shown me. I can not dismiss the importance because I don’t feel the calling is that high. I can’t know my full calling as God only gives us glimpses of the future until we are ready to take the step.
I believe I have to finish what He has already told me to steward before I will be able to see more of the call He has on my life. Luke 19:11-27 shows us that He gives more responsibility to those who steward what they have been given. I believe this is not just in stewarding the finances we are entrusted with , but also the gifts, talents, and abilities Je us given us and purposes He has called us to steward. I have to use what He has already given me to steward before He entrusts me to more.
This idea was further driven home for me today at our women’s brunch. The speaker shared about Abraham, Ruth and Joseph in their walk by faith and not by sight. They each had to walk through difficult circumstances before being propelled into their full purpose.
She shared Abraham had to release Ishmael to God’s care before Abraham could trust God when He asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Ruth had to struggle though the loss of her dreams attached to her husband before she could trust God to carry her to an unknown country with her mother-in-law and connect with Boaz. And become part of the lineages of King David and ultimately Jesus Christ. And Joseph had to learn what it was like to be betrayed and rejected by his brothers so he would know God would be with him in prison and keep his heart ready for being propelled to the palace to save his brothers and the nations of Egypt and Israel.
I have to steward where I am right now instead of holding on to past works. If I don’t, I can never find the promise of my Isaac. I won’t discover the blessing in my Boaz. Or be prepared when I am propelled to the palace in my life. I know my struggles nor the outcome will look like Paul’s, Abraham’s, Ruth’s or Joseph’s. It will be unique to me and the call of God on my life. It will not look the same as those around me, but I won’t see it all unless I let go of what I’ve done in the past. I also have to chose to press forward to the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ.
Prayer – Lord, I hear Your voice today in these messages. You know my struggles; You also know my excuses. The truth is I can do all things through You, because Christ is my strength. Help me to stop wearing my past like a badge of shame because I am an new creation inYou. Help me to also stop focusing on the past ways that I have served You. Teach me to press forward and truly leave the past behind so I can reach towards the mark of the call You have placed on my life. I want to move forward towards the promises, the blessings and the purpose You created me for. I want to be a blessing to You and to those You have called me to. In Jesus name, Amen.