“I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me….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.”
‘I press on.’ Twice in the context of two verses Paul uses this expression. It implies not stopping, not giving up, not resting on past achievements nor giving in because of past failures or shortcomings, but pushing onwards to complete the mission. The picture is of an athlete who will not be beaten by life’s rivals but will win through to the end.
Christians have purposes for which Christ has taken hold of them. Whilst one is that He may “keep you from falling and .. present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy”(Jude 1:24),another is that “ we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph 2:10)
We have been called into a special relationship with God – to be His daughters and sons. We are also called to join Christ in His ministry to others and to the world. Paul knew that Jesus had taken hold of him with both aims in mind, and he was not going to give up on either of them. Insofar as Jesus had a purpose for his life he was going to do his best to see that it was completed.
Every athlete, particularly the long distance runners, will know all about the times when it would just be so much easier to give up. Those times when each muscle and every emotion is crying out, ‘no more of this; no more pain, no more loneliness; give up!’ Some carry on though and go through the pain barrier, find a ‘second wind’ and press on to the finishing line. Sometimes they will be out there alone, with no one to support them, but they persevere.
Life, including the Christian life, has many challenges, temptations and trials. However, the Christian has Someone running with them all the time, encouraging them, strengthening them, helping them up when they fall, reminding them of who they are and helping them to keep the goal in mind. You too can press on with Him until the time comes to say with deep satisfaction, “It is finished!”
In the world as it is where many have turned away, many have become luke-warm and many focus only on themselves – press on. Keep your eyes on the Lord, keep in His Way, keep the faith and remain one of His faithful ones’
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” (Ephesians 3:16)
Whatever your pain barrier of the moment – ask God for help, for strength and for encouragement. Keep going with what is right. Trust Him, He will see you through. If in doubt about the direction to take – ask Him, and wait for Him to show you. He will.
Lord Jesus, please help me not to give up on you, or on myself. Please continue to call me forward, guide me, strengthen me and encourage me.
“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”