“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. …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
Running a marathon seems daunting, doesn’t it? I’ve run several half marathons, and honestly, by mile 10 of 13, I am just about spent. With every joint in my body on fire, my mind screams at me to stop, drop and roll. The most challenging sections of the route are the steep hills; I struggle to climb them and feel a bit out of control on the way down. In contrast, the flats are uneventful stretches of roadway that drag on forever, as boring as boring can be.
It doesn’t help that I’m not a fast runner. In fact, my running is more like brisk walking. Sometimes it’s not even brisk, but it’s the best I can muster at the time. No matter how badly I want to quit, though, as I watch my feet pounding the pavement, propelling me ever closer to the goal, I am motivated to press on. Step by agonizing step, miles disappear behind me even as the finish line looms closer.
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “Life is a marathon, not a sprint.” Throughout our lifespan, there may be times we feel bogged down and exhausted by burdens and trials. We may be tempted to give up when everything seems like an uphill battle. When circumstances are out of our control, we may feel fear and anxiety. And when nothing special is happening, we may wonder what the point is or if we have a purpose.
If anyone knows how exhausting, exhilarating, and strenuous the marathon of life can be, it’s the Apostle Paul. In Philippians 3:12-14, he offers advice gleaned from personal experience: “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. …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.”
You may not be training for a marathon, but if you truly want to improve your health, it’s important to have a goal, something that motivates you to take appropriate action. Maybe you want to lose 10 pounds before vacation. Or walk/run a 5K fundraiser. Or reduce your cholesterol numbers on your doctor’s recommendation. Whether in the natural or spiritual realm, it is imperative that you take care of the body God gave you, especially since the Spirit of God resides in it with you! “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? … Therefore honor God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Even if you’ve tried before without measurable success, don’t give up! No matter how long it takes, or how slowly you’re moving, you can stand with Paul and say, “I may not have obtained it yet, but I will keep pressing on toward the goal to which God has called me. Past attempts will not define me, and I will not let them hold me back. With God’s help, and with the support of family and friends, the prize of good health is within reach. With Christ, all things are possible, and together we can do this!”