Philippians 3:7-16 (ESV)
7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Straining Toward the Goal
12 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. 13 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, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
My oldest son recently competed in his first cross country meet. The athletes ran a two-mile grass course. They began and ended at the same location, but the rest of the course was not entirely visible from the starting line. When I saw them all lined up, ready to run, I looked around and thought, “How will they know where to go??!” As the event got underway, I started to understand how this would work out. The runners had to follow the mowed section of grass, and follow the runners in front of them. They had to keep looking forward or they wouldn’t know where to go. Looking backward wouldn’t have done them any good. They had to have faith that the direction of the course would be made clear as they continued to run.
Running a cross country race is exactly like life, and exactly what Paul is describing in today’s reading from Philippians. None of us have yet reached the finish line in life. We don’t know for certain what lies ahead, or which way the path will turn. But we can’t look behind us. Looking back will not show us which way to go forward. Instead, we must keep looking forward, even when we aren’t sure which way to go. We have to have faith that our direction will continue to be made clear as we struggle to follow Jesus. There may be other runners ahead of us who lead the way, or people on the sidelines pointing toward the turns, but sometimes we will feel like we’re alone on the course.
No matter what, we keep running toward the goal of being called home to heaven, knowing that our Savior will be waiting at the finish line.
Dear Lord, thank you for leading us through this life. Help us to put our faith in you when we can’t see which way the path goes. May our eyes be always focused on the ultimate goal—eternal life with you. In your name we pray, Amen.
Written by Melissa Roselle Preschool Director of Education firstname.lastname@example.org