“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14 (CSB)
For the past two decades, I have been a proud sports mom. I’ve spent oodles of hours parked on metal bleachers, wooden benches and nylon lawn chairs. I’ve cheered for my children on the baseball diamond, volleyball court and football field. However, one sport I never got into was ice hockey. Even though it’s popular in my home state of Michigan, none of my children played it, so it wasn't on my radar.
Ice hockey is a fast-paced and highly emotional sport. Due to the speed of the game, hockey players need to keep their eyes open and their reaction time fast. However, it isn’t enough just to have a quick in-the-moment reaction time. Hockey players need to learn to think ahead, anticipating where the puck will fly next.
One of professional hockey’s biggest legends is Wayne Gretzky. This native Canadian’s career spanned over two decades. His approach to the game offers a peek into the reason for his immense success. His keen strategy? "I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.”
This renowned athlete knew a crucial strategy in his fast-paced sport. You must think forward. You can’t determinate your course of action based on where the puck has been. You need to intentionally (and accurately!) anticipate where the puck is going next in order to triumph. Winning at hockey — and also at life — necessitates forward-thinking.
As Christians, we must forget what is behind and press forward to what is ahead. We cannot idle our brains in the past, whether by exalting in the good times of glory days gone by or by wallowing in disappointment over what has transpired. We must choose to forget the past — and yes, it is a choice — and then keep our eyes fixed firmly on Christ and the future He has for us.
The Apostle Paul encourages us to do this in Philippians 3:13-14 when he declares, “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.”
Paul’s advice to us? Forget about it! Don’t dwell on the past. Don’t fix your mind on yesterday — or even yesteryear. Don’t waste time reliving a past achievement. And don’t beat yourself up for a past mistake when you’ve already sought God’s forgiveness. Move ahead and pursue God’s heavenward call that is promised to you in Christ Jesus. The gospel changes our view of the past, and it changes us. We can determine to let God use our personal history for His purposes as we cooperate with Him and point others to Jesus.
God promises that in Christ, we can become something better than what we have been. Let’s focus more on the “promise” and less on the “have been.” Life is happening right in front of — not behind — you. Strap on your spiritual skates, disregard what’s in the rearview mirror, and glide into the future God has prepared for you.
Dear God, I don’t want to live in the past. I want to see what You’re doing right now. You are a God who transforms and renews. Don’t let me get too busy looking behind me that I miss the future work You have planned for me. I want my life to reflect Jesus and the hope of the gospel. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Proverbs 4:25, “Let your eyes look forward; fix your gaze straight ahead.” (CSB)
Philippians 2:4, "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (ESV)
Philippians 4:9, "What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me — practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (ESV)
If you’d like to learn more about living for the gospel and pressing ahead in your faith, check out Karen Ehman’s newly released LifeWay Bible study on the book of Philippians entitled, What Matters Most.
It’s celebration time! Join Karen on her blog where she is hosting a release party for What Matters Most: A Study of Philippians. She is giving away a free PDF of delicious recipes from the area of Macedonia, where the ancient city of Philippi was located. Also, you could win the grand prize package that includes 5 copies of What Matters Most, one of the teaching DVDs, a bag of Karen’s favorite flavored coffee and a French press coffee maker. Details at Karen’s blog.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
In which area(s) of your life do you most need to apply Paul’s advice to press on, “forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead”? What are some practical ways you can do this?
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