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.
~ Philippians 3.13-14, ESV
Welcome to mile-marker 24 of the #Encourage Marathon. (If you missed yesterday’s post, you can read it here.)
Someone out there is clinging to the past. It might even be you.
My children love to race each other. It’s not exactly a fair race, as their difference in size makes it hard for the littlest one to keep up. My middle child, however, can outrun the other two (and usually does) as long as she doesn’t look back. She keeps her eyes focused on the “finish line” and leans her whole body towards the end. I’ve watched them run several of these little “races” and I’ve noticed that whenever my champion middle racer looks back, she slows down (and sometimes loses!)
In a race, runners don’t often spare a glance for who’s behind them, because they know it’ll slow them down. They have their peripheral vision to keep them apprised of who is gaining on them. Looking back in a race and in life will slow you down and trip you up. It isn’t worth it.
Don’t look back. Look ahead.
A highway patrolmen once taught me the importance of driving with a high visual horizon. The reason that law enforcement officers are usually able to overtake suspects in a pursuit is their ability to drive with a high visual horizon. Most drivers look just off their hood or focus on the bumper of the car in front of them. Californians can’t help it—there’s so much traffic. Here in Texas, they’re all focused on their phone screens (seriously, it’s atrocious). While I was driving with the aforementioned highway patrolmen, he would spot things way up ahead and make a maneuver that made no immediate sense to me. It always turned out to be a wise maneuver. He was adept at making turns at higher speeds without sudden braking and he could wheedle his way through traffic without incident—all because he was trained to drive with a higher focus.
Don’t look back on life with rose-colored glasses; look ahead with a high visual horizon.
In the verses preceding today’s passage, Paul was enumerating all the things in his past that he could have reason to boast about:
If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
~ Philippians 3.4-8, ESV
Before becoming a Christian, Paul was a rising star among the Jews. He had trained under a well-respected teacher and joined a powerful sect of the Jews. When He put on Christ in baptism, he had to let it all go. What did it matter? Knowing Jesus was far more precious to him than any past prestige. Why look back? Paul wanted the real prize—eternal life with His Creator and Savior.
(I strongly encourage you the entire train of thought from verse four to verse fourteen.)
You and I are also in a race towards eternal life.
Are you weighed down by the pride of your past? Time to throw it off. Pride goeth before a fall, you know.
Are you looking back at how things went wrong? What’s done is done. It’s time to make your life right with God and move forward.
Are you looking back with rose-colored glasses on the good-ol’ days? Those days cannot be reclaimed. Look ahead towards the greatest glory you could possibly imagine.
Sing this song to yourself as you run your “marathon.” (Music keeps most runners motivated!)
by Johnson Oatman Jr., 1898
I’m pressing on the upward way
New heights I’m gaining every day
Still praying as I onward bound,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”
Lord, lift me up and let me stand
By faith on heaven’s table land
A higher plane than I have found
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.
My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay
Though some may dwell where these abound
My prayer, my aim is higher ground.
I want to live above the world
Tho’ satan’s darts at me are hurled
For faith has caught the joyful sound
The song of saints on higher ground.
I want to scale the utmost height
And catch a gleam of glory bright
But still I’ll pray till heaven I’ve found
“Lord, lead me on to higher ground.”
Onward and Upward! We aren’t there yet!
We are almost done with our marathon! Never fear, the encouragement will still be available for you here at Elihu’s Corner under the #encourage tag.
Please continue to join me as we finish out this series on Facebook, Twitter and here at Elihu’s Corner for this marathon. Share the image or verse reference on your Twitter feed or Facebook page with the hash tag (#encourage). Take time today to copy down this verse for yourself. Send an email or text to someone you know who would benefit from this encouragement.
Make some time to copy down these posts. Some of them are a bit long, but it only takes a few minutes. Ask your kids to do it with you. Don’t just be encouraged, encourage others!