As I look back over the last ten years of my walk with God, there have been ups and downs, mountains and valleys, good times and bad. As I continue blogging, I just want to let you in on a little secret – I am not perfect. I don’t have it all figured out. I haven’t arrived. I am a sinner. I mess up every day – whether it be big or small. I haven’t crossed the finish line yet, but I am still running my race.
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, 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.” (Philippians 3:12-14, NIV84)
I love this passage from the Bible! I haven’t figured everything out, but I’m pressing on! I’m going to forget the past – my former way of life, how I used to do things. And I’m pressing on toward Jesus – toward the finish line of my faith. In the Greek, the phrase “I press on” is “diōkō”. It means to run swiftly in order to catch a person or thing, to run after, to press on: figuratively of one who in a race runs swiftly to reach the goal, to follow after, to pursue, to seek after eagerly. This is how I want to live my life from now on – chasing after Jesus, pursuing God with all that I am. I don’t want to float aimlessly through this life. I want to fulfill my God-given purpose and calling. Again, I’m not going to do it perfectly, but it’s my race, and I’m going to run it.
I was working out to a Jillian Michaels DVD yesterday, and during the cool-down she said: “Transformation is not a future event, it is a present activity.” And while this obviously applies to exercise and fitness, I think it can relate to our journey with God. I believe that life is a process, that transformation is an ongoing part of our lives. I find so much reassurance and comfort in Philippians 1:6 – “…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (NIV84). God began a good work in me, and He will carry it on to completion. Here’s that same verse in the Message: “There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.” God is not giving up on us! He has a plan for us – and He will work it out over the course of our lives, through the race that we run, until Jesus returns.
This doesn’t mean that we won’t have trouble. There is an enemy out there. His name is Satan. The Bible says that he prowls around like a lion, looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). If we’re running our race, if we’re persevering, I don’t think he’s going to be quick enough to catch us. If we have our spiritual armor in place (Ephesians 6:13-18), he’s not going to easily overcome us. The One who is in us is greater than the one who is in the world (John 4:4). But there might be times when the devil cuts in on our race.
“You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.” (Galatians 5:7-8 NIV84)
“You were running superbly! Who cut in on you, deflecting you from the true course of obedience? This detour doesn’t come from the One who called you into the race in the first place. And please don’t toss this off as insignificant.” (Galatians 5:7-8 MSG)
There have been different seasons where this verse has rung true in my life. I’ve had to stop and evaluate – who cut in on my race? As easy as it would be to blame my husband or my kids, the Bible says that my struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, authorities, and powers of this dark world, against spiritual forces of evil. (Ephesians 6:12). Maybe the enemy got me with one of his fiery darts, or a whisper of discouragement and deception. Maybe he got me to slow down or stop with a little lie or some counterfeit truth. My dear friend Arlene was talking to me today about how God often speaks in a still, small voice, while the enemy is shouting at us. Who are we going to listen to? When we give Satan a foothold in our life, we invite him to have his way in us. But what is his way? John 10:10 says “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy.” We are called to resist the devil, to take a stand against his schemes, and to stand firm in the Truth! Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life! In the second part of John 10:10, Jesus says that He came that we might have life, and have it to the full. He wants our lives to be abundant, overflowing with His love and goodness!
I want to point out that I don’t think we can always blame the devil for every single thing that goes wrong in our lives. Sometimes there are natural consequences for our choices or behaviors. I was reminded of the classic fable – “The Tortoise and the Hare”. There wasn’t an enemy that came and tripped the hare. The tortoise didn’t distract him. The hare was overconfident and made some bad decisions. Sometimes I’m the reason that my race gets interrupted. Maybe I got confident or prideful and thought I had time to take a nap. Or maybe I got tired and burnt out and had to rest my eyes for a moment. Maybe I stayed up late and was too exhausted to run. But God reminded me, it’s time to wake up! Ephesians 5:14 says, “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” It’s time to get up and start running again! Let’s not let the devil – or ourselves – keep us down for another moment.
I love looking for encouraging quotes online. I found one from Victor Kiam; he said “Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward.” I love this! It’s all about perspective. Fall forward – and get back up again! Here’s another great quote, from Joel Osteen’s book Your Best Life Now: “You must make a decision that you are going to move on. It won’t happen automatically. You will have to rise up and say, ‘I don’t care how hard this is, I don’t care how disappointed I am, I’m not going to let this get the best of me. I’m moving on with my life.” Don’t let discouragement keep you down, don’t let the devil hold you back. Keep running the race that Jesus has marked out for you! If you’d like to look at more quotes, check out these links: http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/failure, http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_motivational.html.
One of my life verses is found in John 16:33, when Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (NIV84). Jesus has overcome the world! Take heart! Be encouraged by that! We will have trouble in this life but in the end, Jesus wins!
I want to bring it back to Philippians 3:12-14, this time in the Message:
“I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.”
Last thing I want to share with you! Three of my favorite songs right now ❤ Check them out on YouTube!!
“Victory” – Hillsong College (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVo9j_KDmWU)
“See The Conqueror” – Jenny and Tyler (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FYK9lxhYfg)
“I Will Rise” – Shawn McDonald (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2ti1BikZrA)
Thank you so much for reading! I hope you are encouraged and built up by God’s Word, His promises, and His LOVE!