By David M. Kowalke, Jr. |@hongkongkowalke | TRINICY.org
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal,
but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
Brothers and sisters, 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
Time is like a good friend, or like a bad cold. You are conscious of it wherever you go. We refer to it in almost everything we talk about. We live in it and we will die in it. In some ways, it is like Love. You can’t see it, but you can see its effect. You can’t smell it, but many smells transport you to another place by it. You can’t taste it, but it can rob you of hunger.
You can’t hear it, but its beckoning is loud. You can’t touch it, but its effect on your life is undeniable!
It is undeniable that I am no Albert Einstein or Stephen Hawking, and that this is not a scientific treatise on the nature of time. However, as this year rolls inexorably into the next, I would like to suggest that, as I read this profound passage from Paul’s letter to the believers in Philippi, that there are at least these three observations to make about how we Christians deal with our place in time.
First, there is a forgetting. Aren’t we told over and over again in the Scriptures to remember things, such as the goodness and faithfulness of God and the destructive results of lives bound in sin? While we struggle to remember, it is also important to forget. We ought to forget the victories of the past and not rest on them by ignoring the need for us to trust God for today.
If we have seen Him ‘part the Red Sea’ in a particular area of our life, we need to continue to act by faith now for the ‘desert experience’ that we are dealing with. Also, we are to forget the sin that we have yielded to because we are told that in Christ, God remembers that sin no more. “Guilt” is when we acknowledge that we have offended the character of God. “Shame” is what Christ became in our place on the cross! Shame has no place in the believer’s life. What is the answer to forgetting the past? Learn from the Past, but don’t live in it!
Secondly, there is a straining. We are in a race for our lives! We are to reach forward today for the future that is tomorrow. There is a popular view today that we are to live in the moment, in the now. That is true, but not if the now is all that there is. What is the answer to straining forward? Live in the Now, but don’t live for it!
Thirdly, there is a future prize. Our goal is secure. The finish line is near. That is what makes our lives today of ultimate and infinite value. Without an assurance in knowing of the existence of a personal God who loves us, and who has entered into our experience at Bethlehem, to the Cross, through the empty Tomb, there is no ‘now’ worth living. How do we deal with the future? Strain for the Future, because we are designed for it!
In consideration of Time and our place in it, here are some questions we might ask: What in the past should I release that holds me back? What lessons have I learned from the past? What in the present ought I be doing that I have wrongly avoided? What can I do today that will move me forward? What in the future do I fear, and how should I deal with it? What in the future has God graciously prepared for me?
Would you pray with me? Lord, who was, and is, and is to come, help me to lean on your grace and mercy to learn from yesterday, as I live today for the joy-filled tomorrow that, by your love, you have secured for me. I come in the strong name of Jesus, Amen.
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