Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
A person running a marathon does not wear heavy clothing or carry a backpack full of supplies. Their aim is to be as light as possible in order to move freely toward the finish line. They do not depend on their past race results to carry them down the long course, neither do they receive a penalty for doing poorly in a past race. Their focus is the here and now, this race, the next step. Anything that would hinder them or weigh them down is cast aside.
The same is true for the marathon that is our lives. Past failures do not need to determine the course of our current race. And past successes cannot carry us forward today. We learn and grow from our previous trials and victories as preparation for the race, but we cannot depend on yesterday’s strength to get us through today. No matter how many times we’ve stumbled or fallen, no matter how many times we ran the fastest or went the farthest, those things are behind us now. We are not to wallow in past failures or rest easily in past victories. God wants us to keep going, keep climbing, keep striving. There is more to be done, goals to accomplish, people to minister to, tasks to complete, more growth, more victories, more faith-building to be done.
This kind of mind-set allows us to endure for the long run. Paul himself had much to regret and much to boast about in his past. But instead he focused on what he had yet to do and what he had yet to gain. A faithful servant desires to please his master and not leave the work undone. He knows he cannot sit with his feet resting on all he accomplished yesterday if he hopes to accomplish anything else. And when we keep our eyes on pleasing God, bringing Him glory, and fulfilling His purpose in us, we’ll keep going one step at a time toward that finish line.
It’s not easy to run a marathon. We grow tired and weary along the way. Sometimes the journey is uphill. The sun beats down on us. So let’s shed the heavy weight of the past that might slow us down. Let’s refresh ourselves in the Lord and His Word. And let’s follow the course He has marked for us and keep on going, pressing toward the mark.