Press toward the mark as we finish the work

 

Philippians 3--13-14

Recently I have been receiving a number of quotes along with scriptural references on a variety of topics, and from time to time, I will touch upon “The Quote of the Day.” Today, October 30, 2016, is such an occasion

“Every moment wasted looking back keeps you from going forward in life.”

Accompanying the quote is a reference to Philippians 3:13-14. Earlier this year, I posted comments on this passage from which the following excerpt is taken:

Philippians 3:13-14

13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Our understanding is illuminated as we examine some of the athletic imagery in the passage. Immediately my thoughts turn toward my high school track days when I ran anchor on the mile relay.  Once the baton hit my hand, I grabbed it and focused on completing the race.  If the other three members of the team had given me a lead, my task was to maintain it or if we were behind when I got the baton, I had to make up the distant and then pull ahead before crossing the finish line.  To press toward the mark is to focus intently, to “scope in on” as one does with a telescope which blocks everything out except that which you are looking at.

I recall that I had to be “single-minded,” focusing all of my energy and efforts on finishing my race. I did not look to the right nor to the left, certainly I did not look behind, but I pressed toward the mark, striving to cross the finish line. I recognized that I had to cross the finish line before I could receive the prize.

The reference to the “finish line” brings to mind this celebratory poem written when I turned 65 and revised for today’s blog entry:

As We Finish the Work

Jesus said to them, My food (nourishment)

is to do the will (pleasure) of Him Who sent Me

and to accomplish and completely finish His work.

John 4:34 (Amplified Bible)


As we finish the work that God sent us to do

And seek to fulfill all His will and leave our mark,

The Lord blesses, refreshes and makes all things new.

The fire on the altar enflamed from a small spark

Beckons as we press to reach the top of the mount.

We are called, destined to be abundantly blessed,

Reaping the good of this life’s bountiful harvest.

We reflect upon God’s favor as we recount

The days of our years have been multiplied by five

All along the way to express grace upon grace,

As we persevere, not just to survive but thrive

And triumph with renewed strength to finish our race.

Though some may look toward this time and seek to retire,

To serve God evermore is still our heart’s desire.

As I recall my track and field experiences, I recall  that many times the outcome of the entire track meet was known beforehand, based on the accumulation of points from all the previous track and field events,  with the last two races being relays.  Drawing a spiritual parallel with the spiritual athletic arena that we find ourselves in today, the believers’ team is so far ahead that we cannot lose; however, the challenge is for each individual believer to finish the race, having achieved his or her P.B. (personal best).

In a similar way, believers are encouraged in their individual races to

 Cast aside every weight and the sin that so easily besets,

Forget the past, press toward the mark,

Look straight ahead with no regrets.

We close, as Wayne Pascall offers an original rendition of “Press for the Prize” from Philippians 3:13-21:

 

 

 

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