“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Jesus Christ.”Philippians 3:13-14
Ever since those squeaky training wheels were removed from my first childhood bicycle, I have loved and enjoyed going on bike rides. There’s something adventurous, exhilarating, and even calming about pedaling forward to places known and unknown, new roads and back roads, exploring God’s beautiful creation. Not to mention, it’s a pretty good workout…well, most of the time!
I’m reminded of a mountain biking adventure my dad and I took when I was a teenager to the beautiful Appalachian foothills in western North Carolina. We were on one of the many single-track trails that winds through the thick forest overlooking Fontana Lake below. During one particular instance, I was trying to catch up with my dad ahead. Like any determined teenage boy, I pedaled as hard and fast as I could through the curvy mountain trail to gain some ground. As I came upon a straightaway, I turned my gaze away from the path to take a quick glance at the lake below. Mistake #1. As soon as I did, my spinning tires hit something in the dirt that almost took me to the ground, but I managed to maintain my balance and kept going. What was that? I had to know.
Still pedaling, I took my eyes off the trail ahead a second time to sneak a peak at what almost tripped me up. As I spied the overly exposed tree stump that had originally tripped me up, my bike once again lost control, and I realized I had unknowingly steered the bike off course. Mistake #2. I immediately engaged the brakes as hard as I could, and the bike and I skidded to an abrupt halt on the dusty ground just a few feet away from the steep decline down to the lake.
Three primary factors caused my bike fall:
- I was distracted and lost focus;
- I took my eyes off the path laid out in front of me; and
- I looked backward instead of forward.
The scriptural application is evident. I am reminded of Psalm 16:11 which declares, “You [the Lord] make known to me the path of life.” My friends, the God of the universe has ordered our steps. He has already laid out the path before you. The Lord invites us to look ahead at our future in Him and not to dwell on our past mistakes and failures. God is calling us to focus forward with clear vision in order to see and trust in His unique and perfect design for our lives.
In Philippians 3:13-14, the Apostle Paul exhorts us to “forget what lies behind and reach forward to what lies ahead.” Just as I encountered in my biking story, we all have experienced bumps in our own roads of life. If you haven’t yet, hold tight because you will. However, we must not fixate on those former things. They are behind us. I believe looking back and dwelling on past regrets is the enemy’s attempt at slowing you down and getting you off your intended course with Jesus Christ. Wherever you find yourself today, I pray the Lord will give you faith, grace, and strength to “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Jesus Christ.”