Sunday, October 25, 2015

12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

 Carrying on from last time, and the idea of being released from a performance mindset ... the next part of this well-known passage in Philippians seems at first glance to be all about performance, but really ... it’s the opposite.

Because we’re told here not to consider what we’ve already done. Not the failures, not even the successes. Because regardless, until we’re finished here, we aren’t finished.

We are all works in progress, regardless of who we are, and what we’ve done.

You know that verse about Elijah having a nature like ours? Well, the reading at church a couple of weeks ago was the passage of him running off to hide from Jezebel right after the victory on Mount Carmel ... and I was struck by Elijah’s words, “I am not better than my fathers.”

Right after this amazing event where God Himself answered Elijah’s prayers with fire from heaven.

Fire, y’all. So hot it burned up not only the sacrifice but the water and dust and very stones.

And Elijah’s response to being hunted by a pagan queen? I am not better than my fathers.

I remembered the night after taking my mom back to the hospital in September, feeling like such a failure for not being able to keep taking care of her at home, feeling indeed like every endeavor I’ve set my hand to in the course of my life has either been unfinished or just ... fizzled. Weeping before the Lord because in nearly half a century on this earth, I’d wanted more. I’d expected more, not of life but of myself.

Was so tired of handing God only messes and half-finished projects.

I am not better than my fathers.

Elijah really was just like us.

For all the times I’ve seen fire fall from heaven, seen God work out details and do, oh, amazing things ... I am disappointed to learn I’m still the same fallen flesh and blood as my parents and grandparents. The ones who wanted to follow God but somehow never accomplished what they wanted to for Him. The ones who abused or neglected those in their care. The ones who let their impulses and sin rule them.

And yet ... I cannot cling to the past. Yes, I can look back and see where I’ve come from, see what God has done for me and how unworthy I am of His grace, but I have to turn and keep walking.

Keep running.

Don’t look back. Don’t be distracted by who I think might be gaining on me. Don’t wish this part of the path was like the one before.

What’s that SEAL motto? “The only easy day was yesterday”?

Keep pressing on!

15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind. (Philippians 3, NKJV)


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