13 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, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Paul writing to the Church in Philippi wanted these dear people to know that he was running too. He was perusing, pursuing, and being driven to reach. Not just a reach that was knowing he would obtain it, but rather a reach that he did not know for certain. He didn't think he had mastered what it was to run the race he was given for Christ, passion, and purpose.
I don't consider... how many times do we consider the wind and the waves... Peter did.
I don't consider the cost... Would you buy the ring for her?
I don't consider how my body will change when I have carried a life within me...
I don't consider when it survives and thrives or goes before I go to be set apart and holy.
Paul hoped, but had not reached, attained or broken the plane yet. He didn't just lolly gag. HE DIDN'T CONSIDER!
I get caught in the considering and I think I miss points where my love would wash over and be a wave if I didn't consider and just lived.
And then he, Paul, says something even deeper in the next word...
I didn't consider... myself.
Not that he wouldn't but that he did not consider himself YET!
This line just builds on itself doesn't it!
...yet to have taken hold of it.
The it is unknown at least in the passage that is above. In viewing the verses prior to these there is a rich treatise of focus that Paul is inviting, dreaming and causing his faith to yearn stronger and deeper in the days ahead. His wanting in the letter is so rich and desires that the church be encouraged and joyful as he is. He is writing to convey the energy he would want to will on the Church at Philippi to not delay, to keep going, and to STRAIN!
Awe... Not Awww! AWE! is what I had when I watched my wife in childbirth. Awe. She strained. She yearned. She longed for the day and then she pushed against what any natural premonition might have her think. She forced against a 9 pound bowling ball to the point of no return, only to have the ball remain and not result in a Strike! She pushed harder and the son would not move. He was stuck! Any effort to help was not helpful. She strained, she forced, and she cried as the pain became worse. OK, guys, I don't have to get graphic, and women, I know you are right there with her, but c'mon epidural!!!
Paul is straining but before he strains, HE FORGETS!
God forgot. God forgot every sin and any harm I caused him when he took all my evil and bore its complete cost on a Cross at Calvary. At one point he removed it as far as the East is from the West. HE PERFECTLY FORGOT!
Paul practices what God did perfectly by forgetting what is behind and straining...
So the result of the birth was a Emergency C-section Surgery by a capable provider, and when the Surgeon got down off the table from having to pry... yes people, PRY our newborn from his first home, there was not a bone or belief in the room that did not consider the cost or discount that my wife had truly attempted a fete contrary to nature. It's a story I marvel in still today as I watch the boy growing into who he is.
I ask my wife what pain she still has and she says that her body has never been the same, but she would not ask for it to be the way it was, because not having the boy would be painful too. She does not really say much about the pain. It's a positive that God causes mothers to not have to constantly remember their child birth pains. Paul forgets the past. Paul strains for the ahead. Paul presses.
Press on toward the goal.
I ran a 5K one time. EOS... end of story... ha. Well more to the story is that I did run a 5K and I did finish a 5K. The pressing that I felt along the way was good. Thinking about a continual pressing of running a 5K has not been a current experience joyful experience and after my first is not my dream accomplishment to run one again. I ran and then I stopped when my lungs were screaming for air. I did not continue to press during the race let alone after the race. I was satisfied with crossing a temporary line when I had covered the distance of the 5K.
Paul's line of pressing was not temporary. His pressing on was life long and for a goal of reaching the beginning of heaven in a positive eternity. A say positive because it's hard to not believe that I have not already started my eternal state with how I understand God's promises. I have not attained the eternal body, and the 5K after effects were definitely proof of this for me. The positive eternity will start when I am heavenward as well. Paul started here on earth, described his effort in visual images to the Philippians, and there is not any other reason I can see that he would finish until he made it heavenward. It was a lifestyle. A life passion. I dream that never ended and was lived out following after the desire to win the prize for which he was being called. I don't doubt that Paul was a competitor by nature. He had become the best at everything he tried and accomplished what he set his mind to. I see however in the Post-Christ versus the Pre-Christ adventures that he spoke of, he was attaining and reaching for things that were not praised on earth but were beyond this realm.
I see Paul fixing his eyes on the Author and Creator of his faith, and striving to finish. God was calling him. Can you imagine God calling you to get a prize. Number 7,000,130,005! Please come to the front and receive your prize! Not even that.
It's impersonal to think that God does not know us by our name. Is the name that we have also the the one that God will call us by?The one that our parents bestowed on earth, or are we to be called son's and daughters of the Most High King? I don't know. But I know I am not a number to God.
It's also not the type of thing that one walks around and says on the street. "Hey! God is calling me!", but Paul was admitting to the Philippians that he was being called. I know I might be taking the verse too literal but I want to convey the sense that God himself was calling out and saying "PAUL! Here I am! Keep moving! You are doing it! You are accomplishing! Almost there, my man! Pick up your head and keep coming! Atta boy!!!" Is your view of God excited? Mine is, or at least I would hope He is excited in the creation that He called me to be.
Can you ever have a greater cheer leader than God? God calls. Are we answering by picking up our heads and pounding the pace harder to get to the end? My 5K experience in my own fantasy of mind had me dancing across the finish to the roar of the crowd in my ears. 100 yards into my first trot past the starting gate, I paused and panted for breath, held my side, and thought well I better pace myself as I saw the field span out very quickly beyond my field of vision. I was telling myself rather happily at first and then forcefully in the end of the race "Keep Going to that crack in the road! Keep running to the corner! Walk to the next sign! Don't stop! You can do it!" in all of the funny movie line ways I could think of and I was joyful to have crossed when I did. I willed the finish to happen. I finished, and hoped the pain would subside after a couple of days. Of course this was full of ribbing from my wife who had been catching her breath at the end longer than she thought she should, and waiting for my arrival to tell me her time.
She had trained, and I had machismo trained. You know. Machismo. The belief that if you are male and you compete and you will succeed because you are male and all tasks will be accomplished because you are male... those were the days! Because of the humble pie 5K experience I had with my wife enjoying every minute of her experience, I am wiser to say that Machismo is less a part of my every day life and I hung the cape on the back of the Motel 6 door a while back knowing that I would not remember to pick it up again. And that was OK! My son's have their own capes, now, by the way.
What would pressing into GOD look like either along the way or at the end of the run, having finishing and won the prize? Would our hug be glorious? Most assuredly for His Glory! What if the prize is Him? His purpose? His glory? Will you run, walk, or crawl to get there?
He is calling...
Are you listening?