“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 3:13–14, NIV).
Every day we depend on the memory of things we have learned about in the past. Without memory, none of us could function. We would constantly be asking the same people what their names are, and we wouldn’t be able to remember our own name! We would be permanently lost, not knowing where places are—and we couldn’t go out, because we would never be able to remember where we lived in order to get back home! Life would be totally chaotic. It doesn’t take much thought to realize that memory is one of the most important facets of our God-created humanity. We cannot, literally, forget what lies in the past for, if we did, life would become intolerable.
So, in this very important Scripture, Paul cannot be telling us to forget the past by wiping our brain clean of its memories. Instead, he is telling us not to so dwell on the events of the past that we fail to live in the present and miss God’s best for our future.
Some people begin the new year by making new year’s resolutions. They think of things they would like to change—such as their weight—or activities they would like to do in the new year. But most such resolutions are long forgotten within a matter of days. Soulish enthusiasm for something new will never stand the test of time.
But what would happen if all believers approached the new year with a different question and asked God about His plans for them? And then we spent some time with God waiting on Him so that we could listen to His still small voice? We would then have fresh vision for the year ahead—and if it is vision from Him, then we wouldn’t run out of soulish energy just a few days into the new year. We would discover His sustaining power that enables us to press on toward the goal He has put before us.
Paul’s days on earth were coming to an end. But even in those conditions, he wanted to make the most of whatever time he had left, so that he would not be found wanting when his call heavenward finally came. What an encouragement Paul is as he reminds us not to dwell on what has been (in the past) but to rejoice in what is to come, knowing that what God envisions, He will also enable!
Prayer: Lord, above all, I need to hear Your voice leading me into the year ahead. With all my heart I choose to follow and serve You, pressing on toward the goal You have put before me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.