Bible Reading: Philippians 3:10-14
I want to know Christ, yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal,
but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
Brothers and sisters, 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,
I press on toward the goal to win the prize
for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
I wonder if there have been times in your life when you have felt like giving up, or have maybe given up? It may be with a relationship, with a career or with treatment for a disease. It may be with something smaller like a project you have undertaken, a hike you’ve set out on or a book you’ve started reading. Giving up may bring a sense of relief but it may also bring a sense of failure and the thought of ‘What if…?’ What if I’d pressed on?
St Paul was one of the greatest proponents of the Christian faith. He went from being a persecutor of Christians to becoming a disciple, a missionary, an apostle and one of the greatest theologians. But life was never easy for Paul. During his successful ministry establishing churches far and wide, he was persecuted, arrested, flogged, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked and imprisoned on many occasions. I wonder whether he ever felt like giving up.
Paul clearly participated in the sufferings of Christ as he proclaimed of the gospel of Jesus, and yet towards the end of his life, in prison in Rome, he says this, ‘I want to know Christ… Not that I have already obtained this, but I press on.’
For Paul, in spite of all he had achieved and all he had written, he knew that there was always more to discover about God and about all that Christ had done for him. And so, forgetting all that was behind him, he pressed on to attain resurrection, and all that Christ had for him in heaven.
Sometimes for us the past can hold us back from moving forwards. But past hurts and past failings need not define our future. Laying them at the cross of Christ enables us to find healing and forgiveness and allows us to press on in faith.
Are there things today that prevent you from moving on in faith? Things you might be holding on to from the past maybe? Will you do as Paul did and forget what is behind, strain towards what is ahead, and so win the prize for which Christ called you heavenward?
Lord Jesus, when I feel like giving up,
remind me of all that you sacrificed for me and give me the grace to press on with you and with your call on my life. Amen