Pressing Toward the Mark

Todays Reading : Phil 3:12-16

12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 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.15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

This is another one of my solid scriptures to mediate during the joys and the struggles of life. In the beginning of the chapter Paul gives an account of his stature before Christ.

Philippians 3:3-6

  For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reasons for such confidence.  If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal ,persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

In the main section of Scriptures: 12-16, Paul tells that he has not made the goal or mark of fully living his life for Christ. Paul by many accounts would have been the best of the best.

  • Circumcised on the eighth day
  • Member of the tribe of Benjamin
  • A Pharisee – high ranking religious official
  • Persecutor of the Jewish law

But all of these “things” that he had were not enough to give him the richness that he has attained in Christ.  Even after Paul has been in the actual presence of the risen Christ, he still feels that he has not received the fullness that Christ has to offer.  Here we are seeing that the continual pursuit of Christ is the true nature of our faith. We should always search and seek the face and presence of God.

I have been fortunate to witness God and the embodiment of these scriptures with my son.  My son, Oliver, is a really amazing and beautiful person.  I know that I am biased, but it is true. He truly has a heart that is kind, loving, and affectionate.  He has become a constant reminder of the grace and the tenacity of faith that many aspire.  Two years ago, Oliver suffered several weeks in the hospital, where the physicians and providers could not find what was crippling my child.  We were in the hospital for 21 days and could not have a definitive answer.  During his stay, his stomach and intestines stopped work properly and he was in terrible pain. He had a condition that is called an ileus.  This condition can be remedied with surgery or walking.   We decided walking.  This was one of the hardest times for me as a father, because I was the main person who had to get him up every couple of hours to walk around the hospital.  This was both hard and challenging for both of us. But six weeks later he was able to run and play on the beach at East Bearskin Lake in Minnesota.   Two weeks ago, he again was at East Bearskin where he was still able to run and play in the lake.  Now he is able to kayak to the center of the lake and jump off the floating dock by himself.

After the hospital stay two years ago, Oliver was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.  This is where the body is fight against itself in the gastrointestinal tract. Many times individuals that are affected by this disease are left weakened and unable to do many things. Through God’s compassion and Ollie’s faith, he has been healthy and strong.  He will tell you proudly that he is 4’9”, 75lbs, and 7 & ½ years old.

Two weeks ago, Oliver also completed his first outside rock climb.  This was on a 40-foot cliff, without any predrilled or placed foot or hand holds. He climbed this cliff several times without stopping.    At the beginning, he looked up and stated, “ Let’s go”, not one word of hesitation or fear.   He knew he was ready and able to have faith in himself and God (and mom and dad) to take on this rock.

I write these things to express that

  • Let us renew our child-like faith and attempt the impossible
  • The circumstance that we face will prepare us for something amazing in the future – next week, next year, or two years
  • No matter what has happened in our past or is affecting us, God is working on us to perfect us to his Glory.