No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead (v.13).
I have a somewhat obsessive behavior when it comes to writing down anything lengthy on paper. I hate making a mistake. Fighting the compulsion to rewrite every word (rather than scratching out a few errors), I endure the look of a messy page.
Lately, I’ve been wrestling with the desire to “erase” some difficult issues in the circumstances around me. After all, it seems so much easier to leave behind the things I can’t change, rather than having to stick around and wade through them.
Some of us run in life—but not in the race of which Paul speaks. Instead of moving toward the goal of deeper intimacy with Christ, we spend our time avoiding the real issues in life or running from the difficult places of hurt. We develop quick feet and thick defenses; and rather than working through a “revision” of the situations around us, we keep tearing off the page and trying to start over.
In this world, we will face places where we desire a “do-over”—either because of our choices or the decisions of others. Avoidance and revision, however, are two entirely different responses. One leaves the stings and nettles intact, but buried beneath the surface. The other requires that we acknowledge and surrender the difficulties of life in exchange for the grace offered at the cross.
The past will continually attempt to speak into our present and future. But the past should be given voice only in the remembrances of God’s restoration and healing, for He indeed makes “everything new” (Revelation 21:3).
Paul couldn’t undo the prior decisions of his life (Philippians 3:7), nor could he change the opinions of those around him (Acts 26:28). He had but one choice—stay focused on the prize (vv.13-14). For him, the work of the cross triumphed over any previous accomplishment or failure (v.3).
What current life circumstances are you trying to run from? How does running remove God’s hand from working in your situation? How will letting go of the past change your life?