"Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and reaching 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
Weekly devotionals are usually birthed out of struggles and failures in my life. God has a way of getting my attention in order that He might help me navigate life on a daily basis. Some days it is moment by moment. One thing is for sure He is the Guardian of my soul as He promises in scripture. (Psalm 121:5-8, 1 Corinthians 10:13)
One thing we all have to learn in life is the same lesson as Paul; we must not dwell on our past for too long, but reach forward to what lies ahead pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ on a daily basis.
It is extremely difficult for me to let go of the past. I treasured my days as a mother to my four children. I loved having a family and being a homemaker. I took that role very seriously as a calling from the Lord as I knew it was. It was His will for my life. Unfortunate circumstances brought that season of life to an abrupt ending that made it very difficult to transition into living alone away from family. I was stripped of my purpose and identity I had invested decades of my life in. I often read these words of Paul, and tried to apply them to my new life. It was very difficult for me, because I did not choose this new life. It was a forced situation never anticipated. Devastation, shattered dreams, and disillusionment crippled me for years. But honestly time has a way of gently healing us as we allow our focus to truly rest on the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. When everything you have lived for in this world is removed, you truly gain Christ Jesus and find He is enough. Paul also spoke these treasured words I so relate to in Philippians 3:7-11:
"But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead."
I know most true followers of Christ experience circumstances in their lives as Paul is speaking of here. It is truly how we come to know God in a deep way, maturing us and conforming us into His likeness.
Yes, during these times we experience the fellowship of His suffering, but we gain Christ! We begin to understand the power of the resurrection as never before as we are conformed to His death. We allow our flesh to be crucified that we might be resurrected in the Spirit into His likeness. The goal we are striving to attain is heaven and all it entails! As we allow Him to increase in our lives, and we decrease, we develop fruitful lives. It is fruit that remains eternally, because we have acted out of obedience, rather than sacrifice. Remember His Word tells us to obey is better than sacrifice. (1 Samuel 15:22)
Samuel said, "Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams."
Don’t allow the enemy to distract you by tempting you to always be looking in the rear view mirror of life. If you do you will be blinded to what is up ahead. We need to realize our final destination is not this world, but heaven. We cannot allow anyone or anything to obstruct our path from pressing onward to our upward calling in Christ Jesus. Let us lay aside all things that hinder us, so we may know Him and be found in Him not having a righteousness of our own, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness that God has provided for all of us. It is a most worthy goal I pray we’ll all choose while there is still time.
In His love.
One of my evening skies from home! So thankful for where God planted me in this season of life!