“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 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.”
Paul’s honesty in this passage of scripture, inspires me to do the same. I can honestly say that there was a time in my life where I really felt like I wasn’t that bad of a person. When you are surrounded with people telling you that you are so precious, and pure, it is really hard to not get prideful, and to ignore what they are saying. I knew I wasn’t perfect. In fact I knew that I was hiding so much wickedness in my heart. I knew the mask I was putting on every day, and I knew all of the things I had done and experienced in the past. But alas, I continued to strive for perfection, but not to honor the Lord. No, I pressed on to make myself look better. I pressed on so that I could meet everyone’s endless expectations. I pressed on because I wanted to feel good enough. I think a lot of people, especially kids who have grown up in the church, know exactly what I am talking about. We so badly desire to live up to the standard our older siblings, or our parents have created. We forget who we are living for; not for ourselves, but for the Lord, not for man’s approval, but for the Lord’s. We forget that Christianity is not about a list of rules, and doing things in order to gain God’s favor. Christianity is about one man, compelled by everlasting love and endless grace, coming down from heaven to take our place on the cross, and free us from the chains of sin. It is about this restored relationship, and friendship mankind is able to have with God, the creator of the universe. Colossians 2:13-14 says, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” What’s done is done. The anger I lived in for so many years, the impure and lustful thoughts that no one can see, the bitterness that I have stored inside, the self-centerdness, the lack of trust, and all of the self-sufficiency I have clung to, it is all gone, it has been nailed to the cross. I don’t have to live in who I used to be, I need to kill that old man. The old Charis has died, and continually, each and every day, I have to sacrifice her old desires and old habits on the altar. And truly, if I am living in who I used to be, I am slowly killing myself. But God, calls me to press on and to strive to be daily restored unto the image of his likeness. He asks me to lay down my life, take up my cross, and follow him, wherever he goes, no matter the cost. What lies ahead will be far greater than anything I have left behind, but I will never be able to make it to that promised land if I am constantly looking back. I have to look ahead, right into the eyes of my Father. He alone is my aim; He alone is my joy; He alone is the satisfaction to my soul. Proverbs 4:25-26 says, “Let your eyes look directly forward and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure.” Jesus, all I need is you, let me not forget.
Eyes open, eyes ahead, looking forward, never back. Feet moving, slow and stead, running to Jesus, who never lacks. In you there is an abundance, always more. In you I have found life and eternity is in store. Search my heart, know my mind. Find my sin, and set it aside. Fill me up, overflow me with you. Captivate my gaze, for you are perfect, always true. I’m pursuing, I’m chasing, I’m running to your arms. Let me not turn, let me not fall. Jesus take my heart, Abba take it all.
Application: I will write out, “beauty for ashes,” on a notecard, and hang it up on my closet door. This paper will serve as a reminder to not forget that the old man has died, and the new man is being restored day by day.