Recently, there are two verses that constantly speak into my life. Both verses force me to endure through the difficult moments of life. Both verses force me to rely on God when I want to become lazy in my responsibilities. Both verses have the capability of catapulting me into become the man that God desires me to become each day of my life.
Exodus 16:2-3 – “And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
Philippians 3:13-15 – “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way…”
I find Exodus 16 very interesting because God is attempting to rescue the Israelites from captivity and the people are trying to convince Moses their captivity was a good thing. They had their needs cared for. They had homes to live in. They did not go without anything. Pharaoh was the supplier of their needs. However, those supplies came at a great cost. Captivity. Slavery. Dismissal of freedom. Yet, they wanted to go back to that scenario because it was all they knew.
God was leading them to a life of blessing and Israel thought the easier journey would be what they have always known. When I read these verses, I don’t understand their line of reasoning. When I take the time to reflect on these verses, I can categorize myself with them. I like things to remain the same. I am not a large risk taker. I become very comfortable in daily routines. I love the stability those things provide in life. Routine and stability fits in my iPhone very nicely.
Remaining in those moments, at times, becomes very inviting even though I know God has a larger journey He would like me to take.
This is where Philippians 3 enters the conversation; “forget was lies behind and strain forward to what ahead”. This is not easy. Americans are very good at remembering the past. In fact, as I write this, there are many ceremonies taking place in honor of the September 11, 2001 attacks on our country. Americans are also very good at living in past as we attempt to take “the good ole’ days” with us forward.
Valuing the history of our lives and learning from our past is very important. What I think Philippians 3 is asking each of us to understand is the concept that “the good ole’ days” are actually in front of us and not yet lived out.
Philippians 3 goes on to instruct us that we are to press on toward the goal. This is impossible when we live in an “Exodus 16” moment, even though many of us try. As a runner, I have to remember to continue picking up my knees when my legs get heavy and tired in a race. I have to remember that finishing is important. I would never go back to the start line; I always press forward to the finish line. This task is easier when we are surrounded with others who are on similar journeys with us.
Philippians 3 finishes by proclaiming “those of us who are mature, think this way…”. Wow! Paul is actually giving a measurement tools that defines whether we are a mature follower of Jesus.
- Do you refuse to live in the past?
- Do you strain forward to what is ahead?
- Do you press on toward the prize?
You may be asking how to do this when you don’t know what the prize is. If that is you, great question. Here is the prize; it is very simple.
Connection to the heart of God
This journey of connection is to find where God is actively involved and get there as fast as you can. This looks different for every person, but absolutely involves leaving the past behind and straining toward the future.
Israel would have never entered the Promised Land if they remained in Egypt. Israel would have never experienced the full blessing of God if they remained in Egypt.
What is your Egypt?
What are some things in your past that you would love to keep in the grip of your hands? What does it look like to let go of some of those things? Remember, the goal is connection to the heart of God.
Today, I encourage you to connection with the heart of God as you go through your journey. As true with every journey, you have to get up and move for the journey to continue.
Life is a journey. How is your walk?