Eyes on the Prize

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Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 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.  Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Philippians 3:12-16

Insight

I can almost perfectly reflect on the feelings I had as I read the list of the 7thgrade basketball team. The excitement I had to be able to play on my first ever school team was unmatched. I had fallen in love with basketball and I was ready to jump start my NBA career with middle school basketball. The feelings of excitement quickly turned to disappoint as I realized my name was nowhere on the list.

I was devastated. 

I figured I would just have to have a similar story to Michael Jordan. I got cut from a team, I come back to try-outs next year and I make the team. I just happen to have my cut in the 7thgrade while MJ has his in 10thgrade. I would commit to working hard for the next calendar year until the next try-outs and then it would be on!

As I walked into the gym for try-outs another year older and more mature, I suddenly froze. I was not feeling the same excited nervousness I had felt the year before, I felt fear. Instead of having the excitement of a new year, the replay of last year kept creeping into my mind. I spent the first half of try-outs just trying to shake off the feelings of not seeing my name on the list the year before. I eventually bounced back by focusing on the joy of being on the team this year rather than dwelling on not making the team the year before.

As I look back I realized this sort of pattern happens to us spiritually. Think about a time in your life where you felt as though you were thriving spiritually. You were praying a ton, you were worshipping, you were reading the Bible eight days a week, and you were even getting your journaling on. Those weeks are awesome! But suddenly, in the midst of thriving you get derailed by something in your past. 

You began to remember a mistake, or a pain, or some shame that once existed in your life. Once those thoughts start to come, they throw you off your game. You suddenly get weighed down by what happened, you cannot focus on what is in front of you. As a result, you begin to put prayer, worship, quiet time, journaling, and your community on the back burner. It is as though whatever was in your past has consumed you and made you fall away from your walk. 

For those of you who know Paul, he certainly had somethings in his past he did not want to remember. In case you do not know, Paul was known as Saul, and he used to hunt down and murder Christ followers. But God got ahold of his heart and used him to write over half of the New Testament. For Paul though, his past did not just go away, it was something he had to wrestle with.

Paul’s way of wrestling came from keeping his eyes on the prize, his prize is Jesus. When the weight of his past tried to come to slow him down, Paul looked forward and stayed focused on Jesus. I love how Paul uses the verbs strive and press on. This is not to say Paul was working for his faith, because we know faith is all about grace. But Paul used strive and press on because life is tough sometimes. Thankfully, when life is trying to pull us back into our past, it only takes one step towards Jesus to create the distance we need. 

Jesus has taken the weight of our past from us. No mistakes, no shame, no pain, and no toxic relationship can keep us from moving forward. Jesus took all of those things from us and is stirring us towards Himself. 

We have been told all throughout our lives to keep our eyes on the prize. To me, I think this should remind us to look forward to Jesus. He is our prize and He is more than worth pressing on for.

Reflection

  • What are the things from your past that try to slow you down? Put a label on them and come to face-to-face with them.

  • Now, let Jesus take it from you. It is much more difficult to press on when we are carrying weight we should not. 

  • Finally, make a habit to just look up. When life gets tough simply use looking up as a way to keep your eye on the prize. What could it look like to be pressing on with Jesus, rather than looking at what lies behind you?

Prayer

Father, thank You for being so full of grace and mercy. I surrender my past to You. Everything that tries to slow me down I give to You. I no longer want to be stuck looking backwards. Instead, I want to be pressing on towards You. I am grateful You are my prize, and You are worth chasing after. I love You so much Father, and I pray in Your holy name, Amen.

PC3 writer Davy Nance wrote today’s devotional.


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