“10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, 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, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
15All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16Only let us live up to what we have already attained.”
The part in bold jumped out at me tonight when I looked up the entire passage. I kept hearing “the power of His resurrection” in my mind, and I wanted to read everything before and after this phrase just to be reminded about what all it said. When I read verse 15, I thought “wow!” As we mature in Christ, there are different expectations as to how we should view things! So I looked back to see what “things” Paul was talking about…..
First, we should long to know the power in the resurrection of Christ! Can we even grasp the power needed to raise someone from the dead? To breathe life back into someone from which the last breath has been taken. To cause blood to flow through veins that have become motionless by the ceasing of a heartbeat. Oh, to truly know this power.
Second, we should want to share in His suffering. Can we ever begin to suffer in the way Christ suffered for us? To feel the whip against our back, the crown of thorns upon our head, the rejection of our friends and family, and worst of all, the feeling of separation He felt when even God turned away from Him as He hung on the cross.
Third, we must realize that until the day we die we are pressing on toward the prize. Small victories may come in this earthly world, but until the day we meet God in Heaven we must treat life as a race with ONE FINAL GOAL and ONE FINAL PRIZE! The only way to do this is to stop looking backward and to simply press on toward what is ahead. I love the fact that Paul used the words “straining toward.” This implies great effort. Not looking back is hard. Not reliving mistakes, hurts, and injustices takes extreme discipline. Have you ever met someone who lives in the past? Constant blaming and excuse-making fills their conversations. Bitterness has been rooted in their hearts to the point that their past seems to control their future.
I love the fact that Paul simply says it like it is: All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. In other words, if you are growing in Christ, if you study His Word and pray, if you are a Christian who considers yourself to be striving to be more and more like Him everyday, then you should expect your view of life to change day by day. Part of this change will be that you no longer look back, even when you want to. You strain toward the finish line.
Maybe that’s why Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt. Not because she longed for what she was leaving, but because she couldn’t let go of her past. Straining forward was too difficult. It’s almost as if she was saying, “Just one more glimpse of where I was and what I was.” Don’t we all do that from time to time? Just one more feeling of regret, disappointment, rejection……just one more. Is that what God wants from us?
No. Paul says very clearly, we must press on in order to win the prize.
As you celebrate Easter, I pray that you will somehow grasp the power of His resurrection and that you will make a commitment to the Lord to PRESS ON………….and stop looking back….literally forgetting what is behind you.
Please continue to pray for my friend who lost her mom. She is struggling to make sense of life.