“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. Brothers and sisters, 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.
Many of us watched this year’s winter Olympic games. We tuned in to watch the various competitions and see the efforts of athletes who have dedicated their lives to training and striving to win medals in their respective sport. One thing these athletes all seemed to have in common was determination. Crash, or fall, they kept going.
“Pressing forward,” the idea to continue making progress despite difficulties, setbacks and problems, is a concept that Paul understood very well. In fact, he is often referred to as the ultimate example of perseverance in the New Testament. In Philippians 3, Paul summarizes the Christian experience and reminds us that Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, is calling us heavenward. Heaven is the prize of the high calling—the prize we fight for, run for, wrestle for, what we aim for in all that we do. Life’s hardships often make this challenging, and it can be easy to want to give up along the way. However, the apostle encourages us to trust in God and press forward. In turn, God will give us the endurance, perseverance and faith to finish the race.
In Selected Messages, Ellen G. White says, “It is through Him that we attain maturity in our Christian experience. Jesus is our perfection, our example, our standard of measurement in our Christian experience. Through Him, we reach the goal, the prize that is before us. It is through Him that we become complete, fully developed. Christ’s perfect holiness atones for our shortcomings.”
The Christian life is very similar to the Olympic games in that it is made up of many defeats and victories. We too are competing in the crucial race that has eternal implications. Like runners on their final lap, we muster all our strength to forge ahead. My dear brothers and sisters, the finish line which lies in heaven is getting closer and closer each day. Let us keep our eyes fixed on the one true prize. For God’s glorious reward of spending eternity with Him is worth far more than any earthly reward we can obtain.
By Lee-Roy Chacon, President