Press On (and always move towards Jesus)
I became a follower of Jesus back in 1988; looking back I’d say I really dove head-first into my faith, and took my walk with Jesus seriously. I grew up in the Christian Reformed church, which practices infant baptism and adult profession of faith - that moment when someone stands before the church and makes a public declaration of their desire and intent to follow Jesus for the rest of their lives.
By early 1990 I’d decided I was ready to do just that; so enthusiastic was my desire to do a public profession of faith that my pastor changed things up for my ceremony - instead of asking questions which I would then answer, I instead read the declarations myself for each point from the catechism. Prior to the big day I had to meet with the elders of the church to make sure I was serious about my plans to become an active member of the church. I recall one older man gently advising me not to think my journey was over - hard times and struggles were sure to come, and I had a long journey ahead. “Of course” I replied - but inside I brushed aside his comments - surely I had this Christianity thing figured out - and all by the age of 16 no less!
It didn’t take long for this illusion to be shattered; several months later one of my closest friends shared that he was gay - I was completely overwhelmed (and unprepared, both emotionally and spiritually) by this revelation and as events unfolded over just that senior year I realized how true that elder’s words were about the long, bumpy road ahead…
Not 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. 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, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14
There is never a moment on this earth when we can stop as Christians and say, “Yes, I’ve arrived!” - save for perhaps that moment when we breathe our last breath and go to see Jesus. Joni Eareckson Tada talks about this in her devotional titled “Press On,” which she bases on Paul’s words in Philippians 3:12-14. I’ve always loved this part of Scripture, particularly the part about “forgetting what is behind and pressing on towards the goal.” It’s all to easy to believe the lies of the enemy that our sin and mistakes are just too big for God’s grace and mercy to cover. I’ve been there. Maybe you have been too.
Joni shares an example of “pressing on” from nature - Sharks to be exact. Why sharks? A friend told her this: “Sharks almost always move forward with their mouths open. The Creator designed their gills in such a way that they have to keep moving in order to breathe, in order to stay alive.”
We are not much different spiritually; we weren’t designed for a static faith. Joni offers this encouragement:
The apostle had no time for relishing past accomplishments or beating himself up over past failures or missed opportunities. He forgot what was behind and moved ahead. You must move forward, making every effort to reach for the highest and best. Understand the absolute necessity of pressing ahead, daily breathing in the Word of God and the Spirit of God. Life is forward!
Press on my friends!