Nevertheless, She Persisted

Nevertheless, She Persisted—Write Right“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 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 Christ Jesus.”

— Philippians 3:12-4, New American Standard Bible

When I make a mistake or sin, I typically dwell on it. I lob horrible accusations and words at myself. On one level, it seems appropriate. I should recognize how far I’ve strayed from what is good and true and right. On the other…on the other, the charges enslave. I begin to believe the ugly words, to view them as permanent descriptions of who I am.

Recognition of sin is good, then, but it can’t be the final step. If it is, I get stuck. I lose my way, and I despair—not only of experiencing God’s pleasure again but also of finding the hopes and dreams I barely admit to myself. The despair constricts and turns to depression; the depression leads to dark thoughts and desires to punish myself.

In that darkness, I forget who I am. I struggle to hear the Holy Spirit, the advocate who reminds me I am adopted, wanted, and loved. Such favor seems beyond my grasp. How can I be wanted or loved when I make the same mistake or fall into the same sin time and time again?

Perhaps Paul struggled with such thoughts, too. Almost all of his letters to the churches consider the question of identity. In Romans, he speaks of identity explicitly, reminding his readers that they, if they are in Christ, belong to God and nothing — nothing! — can separate them from him.

Romans contains good words, but Philippians tends to break through, to rescue me when I tailspin into darkness. Paul says he leaves “what lies behind.” He forgets those things, not to escape the accusations but to pursue the greatest treasure of all: Jesus. In that pursuit, he becomes whole. The past sloughs off, and he remembers who he is and to whom he belongs.

I want the past to slough off, too. For me, that demands leaving things behind daily. I think too much; I admit to being slightly obsessive. However, the quality might not be entirely bad if — and this is key — it points in the right direction. I must choose to persist in forgetting what lies behind so that I can fix my gaze on Jesus and his upward call.

Image: Jonathan Fox (Creative Commons)

Comments

  1. So true Erin! Thanks for sharing your perspective 😊