By Lara Cook
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. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Philippians 3:13a-15
If I were to be honest… both forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead can be so hard for me. I can easily get entangled in the messes I have made and let them hold me back with all the lies. You know the ones – you are so unworthy, this can never be redeemed, you are no good, God doesn’t want to help you now…
I can also get slowed down by fear of the future, all the “what ifs,” and unknowns. We can get so wrapped up in what might happen tomorrow or down the road that we miss today. There are things God is calling us to do today. Right now. We can miss His calling for today because we are either looking back or fearing the future.
God never intends for us to be stuck in the past – or held back by past mistakes and bad choices. He also never intends for us to be paralyzed in fear of the future. We have this beautiful freedom in Him. He has forgiven our past and has taken care of our future. All He asks is that we trust Him – trust Him in the salvation He gives from all past sin and mistakes and trust Him with all the unknowns of the future. He broke the chains. He opened the prison doors. He sets the captive free. We are free, but whatever we are captive to will hold us back. He is already in our tomorrows, and any problem we can imagine He already has solved. We just have to lay it in His hands.
And Paul tells us to “Press on…” Look at these definitions of the word “press.”
- To move or cause to move into a position of contact with something by exerting continuous physical force. – When we try to press on – we will bump up against resistance that is working to keep us from pressing on.
- To apply pressure to (something) to flatten, shape, or smooth it, typically by ironing. – We will definitely experience some pressure when we press on.
Pressing on will not feel good some days, and it may even be a little painful. We use it to rally the troops, and to encourage each other (which is absolutely good!), but when we press on, we can be sure that we will be pressed in two ways.
- We will be pressed by God – as He shapes us and molds us for His purpose and His glory. To press on there will be some things that need to go – that need to be pressed out of us. There will be some pressing by God to mold us and there will have to be some good ol pressing to get us to move at all some days.
- Satan will surely press us as we try to move forward. He wants us to be held back by our past, our mistakes, or bad choices. He is the one whispering in our ear that we are not worthy, to give it up, to quit.
Recently a friend of mine was telling me about some crazy race her brother was doing that lasted more than 24 hours. For over 24 hours, he ran, non-stop. I cannot even imagine. He had a support team – a group of people that signed up to meet him somewhere along the way and run with him for a mile or two – that encouraged him and cheered him on. That is exactly what God does for us. He is on this journey with us, step by step, encouraging us to press on. And all that stuff from the past that is weighing us down? He is there to take it from us. Hand that backpack over girl and let God deal with it.
No matter how hard it is to press on, there is one thing we cannot do – we cannot lose faith. If we lose faith, we cannot press on. It is the devil’s plan for us to lose faith, to give up, to quit. He wants us to feel so defeated that pressing on is an impossibility in our minds. As my sweet friend Libby Hutchinson said, “The only way we can press on is to press into Him. Press in and press on.”
This is such a beautiful picture of the only we can make it through this life, pressing into Him for all we need, and pressing on in His strength and power. This is where the “mature” part comes in. Let those of us who are mature think this way… As we grow in Christ, and by some trial and a lot of error, we realize that pressing into Him is the only thing. It is the only thing that brings peace, makes us feel safe, satisfies the longing of our souls, and anything else we look to the world to give us. Only pressing into Him gives us what we need and truly want. And it is the only thing that will give us the strength to press on to complete journey to reach the goal – the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus – the prize of all prizes. Focus on the goal to achieve this upward call, not the past, not the unknown future, and not the circumstances surrounding you.
Eyes on the prize, press in, and press on.