Keeping Our Focus
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. - (Philippians 3:12-14)
Everyone who has run a race knows that you can break your stride by looking over your shoulder to check out how your opponents are doing. Many races have been lost when the leader looked back. When you see that finish line, that is the time to give it everything you’ve got . . . because sometimes it’s mere inches that separate one runner from another. You must stay focused.
This is the idea behind Paul’s statement in Philippians 3:13. The apostle was saying, “Don’t look back. Don’t look behind you.”
When God promises, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25), He isn’t predicting a lapse in His memory. God is saying, “I will no longer hold your sin against you, because my Son has paid for it on the cross.”
In the same way, then, we need to do what God does: forget our past. Yes, we certainly need to learn from our mistakes and remember some of the bitter lessons we’ve learned. But we no longer need to be controlled by our past.
That’s what Paul meant by “forgetting what is behind.” Think about the horrible things Paul had done. He shared responsibility for the death of Stephen and had to carry that in his conscience until his final day. He knew that he was responsible for terrible deeds. But he was able to put his past in the past. And we need to do the same.
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When God doesn’t make sense, when it seems that He is asleep, when it feels like He doesn’t care, we must remind ourselves of His promises. Going back to God’s promises, we find something that we desperately need in those hard times: perspective.
That eternal perspective is the focus of Dr. James Dobson’s book When God Doesn’t Make Sense, which we’re offering as a thank-you to anyone who gives a gift of support to Harvest Ministries this month.