Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)
In 1954 Roger Bannister and John Landy squared off in a monumental race. Both men had recently accomplished the unthinkable by running a mile in under 4 minutes. Landy led for most of the race, even building a lead of 10 yards at one point. But on the last leg of the race he made the mistake that runners should never make–he looked back. Bannister raced past him and never again gave up the lead.
In our battle for purity, that which is behind us (our past) can steal our gaze. We can fall into the trap of thinking too much of our past successes or we can run slower because of the weight of our past failures. Here Paul is not calling us to simply forget our past as if it doesn’t exist. Instead, he is calling us to trust the Lord with our past (both success and failure) and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ. It’s all about where we focus our attention.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Heb 12:1-3)
If you’ve fallen, trust the provision of a gracious Saviour. If you’ve won a battle, trust that it was the provision of a transforming Lord. Then keep running the race set before you.
Father, I thank you that you are not only the Lord of my present and future but also my past. You know every time that I have failed and you know every time that I will fail. You know every victory of grace, and all those yet to happen, in my life. And all of these you knew before the foundation of the world. Help me to trust you with my past. Whether it is the wounds left by others, my own failures, or even the times when I have triumphed in obedience: I entrust them all to you. Enable me now to “run with perseverance the race marked out for me, fixing my eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”