12Not that I have already obtained this [resurrection from the dead] or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
15Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you. 16Only let us hold fast to what we have attained. Philippians 3:12-16
The Apostle Paul has some wonderful words for us in this short passage. He admits in v. 12 that he has not yet “reached the goal.” What he means, according to Barclay, is that he is not yet all that God created him to be. He is not “a complete Christian.” We can most certainly relate to this. We are not only saint but are fully saint and fully sinner. Recognition of our inadequacies and failures do not belittle our status as God’s children, it just means that we know we are humans, creatures, imperfect, and fraught with sin. With Paul we can admit this sinner part of ourselves.
In addition, Paul says he forgets “what lies behind” and strains “forward to what lies ahead.” This too is personal for us. “What lies behind” is any past achievement, award or triumph. Forget that, Paul says, it is over with and done. What is important now is what “lies ahead.” What lies ahead is Christ’s plan for us, Christ’s call for us. His plan, his will is what now occupies our time and energy.
Picture a runner leaning forward those last few steps of a race to beat his competitor. This is the “straining forward” that Paul describes. The intense focus on the goal, giving it a 110% is the picture that Paul is painting. With this we, perhaps, struggle to relate. Our laser-like focus on the call of God tends to fade with the worries of the day and the changes in our lives. Our 110% get spread out over work, family, church, prayer, groups, household duties, etc. All our effort and time can not be put into God’s call on our lives. Or can it?
Is it possible that God’s call for you includes the care of your family and the maintenance of your home, your work life, and your community involvement? Of course, it is possible! Of course, our Father knows your life inside and out. Of course, he knows what burdens you and what brings you joy. And, of course, he knows what his will for you is. He knows what past proud moments you need to leave in the past and what great accomplishments he will do through you in the future. “…but this 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 heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.”