Don’t Look Back!

DOHA, QATAR – OCTOBER 05: Noah Lyles of the United States, gold, and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake of Great Britain, silver, compete in the Men’s 4×100 Metres Relay during day nine of 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 at Khalifa International Stadium on October 05, 2019 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images for IAAF)

“Forgetting what is behind. . .I press on toward the goal. . .”  Phil 3:13

It was the semi-finals and tension filled the air as Phil prepared to defend his title in the 400 meter sprint. In the beginning, Phil was a short-race sprinter, running the 100 and 200 meter races, placing in the top three consistently. But one year, during practice, one of his friends challenged him to a race in the 400. Of course Phil accepted. To everyone’s surprise, including his, he won. That simple challenge changed his racing future.

         And now, one year later, Phil was running the most important race of his career. If he won, he would advance to the finals. He was ecstatic and ready to run. In preparation for this race, Phil had competed in and placed first in the 200 meter finals earlier in the week. But this was his first 400 semi-finals. He had that special feeling that he would finish well.

         Finely tuned, awaiting the starting gun, Phil shot forth at the sound. Running so far at near full speed is very tricky and physically demanding but his training was paying off, he knew instinctively that he was in the lead. Rounding the final turn Phil was focused on a spot just beyond the finish line, a trick his coach had taught him so he would never slow up before he crossed the line.

         He was closing in, he was actually ahead. His legs were screaming for more oxygen but he couldn’t supply any. It was all guts and heart now. Sheer determination would carry Phil across the finish line in first place. And that’s when the unthinkable happened, one tiny split-second of uncertainty. He glanced to his right to make sure he was ahead. That’s all it took. Looking right caused him to stumble ever-so-slightly. So slightly that no one in the stands could tell, but Phil and the other runners could, as they passed him, taking first and second place. Heart broken, Phil finished third. It was only a hundredth of a second, but third place instead of first. Phil looked back and paid the price. It was heartbreak. God cautions us to forget what is behind.

Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”  Luke 9:62

I do not claim that I have already succeeded or have already become perfect. I keep striving to win the prize for which Christ Jesus has already won me to himself. Of course, my friends, I really do not think that I have already won it; the one thing I do, however, is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead. So I run straight toward the goal in order to win the prize, which is God’s call through Christ Jesus to the life above.  Philippians 3:12-14

As Christians, we must “forget what is behind,” and put on the armor of God because the enemy of our soul will attack with hundreds of scenarios in which we’ve been badly treated, accused of wrongdoing, or lied about. What shall we do in these cases? Praise God for false accusations and character attacks. If these attacks are false, we will be aligned with our loving Savior who, when falsely accused, did not defend Himself.

He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth. Isaiah 53:7

He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.  

1 Peter 2:23

So, call out to God. Believe in His awesome power to overcome all the weapons of the enemy. Place your life in His hands and trust that He will ultimately deliver you from all sin and destruction because He said so. Remember what He told the thief on the cross, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in paradise.”  Luke 23:43

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