By CRAIG HARRIS
Philippians 3: 12-16 (NIV): I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, 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. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
It's a brand new year and a good time to stop and reflect that the past is gone. We can't go back and we can't change what happened yesterday. We have to live in the present. I often say we don't live one day at a time, but one moment at a time. We have this moment and nothing else. The past is gone and the future arrives one second at a time and no faster, and we do not know what it will bring. We do not fear it because we know that God is already there waiting for us, but we are wise not to count on it to make changes or to make our peace with him. This moment is the one for that.
Paul knew he wasn't perfect — and he knew he never would be, but his goal was simple: to become more and more like Christ every day. That should be our goal, too, every moment of this new year. We can't go back and fix mistakes, but we can use our experiences and God's grace to avoid new ones today. We can't go back and erase pain, but we can lean on God for his comfort right now.
Paul says he is forgetting what was behind and straining forward like a runner in a race. Not looking back but putting one foot in front of the other as he pushed ahead. We too are running the race set before us. We strain ahead. We push forward. Sometimes it seems we cannot go any more. Sometimes our faith is weak and our strength has dried up. But we call on God and his bottomless power and we take one more step. We strain ahead. We march forward. We run the race.
And we live up to the maturity level we have reached. We do not backslide or waver in our faith, but continually move forward. Not a year at a time or even a day at a time, but moment by moment.
Craig Harris is the pastor at Brushy Creek United Methodist Church in Brushy Creek and Mt. Vernon United Methodist Church in Pert. Sunday services are at 9:30 a.m. at Brushy Creek and 11 a.m. at Pert. See more of his columns at www.instantmessagelive.com