Day 9

Reaching Forward

from the Philippians reading plan

Philippians 3:12-16, Colossians 3:1-4, Romans 8:28-30, 1 Corinthians 9:24

BY Missy Fuller

It was the state meet qualification race and I wanted the prize: my name on the record board in the field house. A freshman in high school, I was competing on the varsity track team against girls who were older, stronger, and faster than myself. I had a history of tripping over my own two feet, yet here I was, about to run 300 yards while leaping over hurdles.

The gun went off and I quickly fell into stride. I had no idea where I was in the race because of the staggered start, but I kept running. As I hit the final straightaway, I could feel my legs begin to burn. My breath was short and heavy and I wanted to slow down. Straightening out, I realized I couldn’t see any of the other runners— meaning I was out front!

I dug as deep as my fifteen-year-old self could dig. I ran and hurdled that last 100 yards like my life depended on it. I ran to get the prize.

I’m still running these days, but I don’t always run with that same fire. Sometimes I try to hit a time goal in a half marathon, but now, it doesn’t make sense to try to place in a big race. I don’t run for “the prize” anymore. In fact, most races, I don’t even know what the prize is.

As much as I hate to admit it, my current approach to running often parallels the way I approach my spiritual life: still running, but not always running in a way to get the prize. Many days I lose sight of what the prize even is. Paul knew I’d need a reminder:

I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.
-Philippians 3:14

As Christ followers, our prize is being made complete in the likeness of Christ. Yes, this takes a lifetime of following Jesus and allowing Him to work in our hearts and lives. But this truly is the only thing that matters. What could be more worthwhile?

Our relationship with God is what will last through eternity. If we have nothing else on this earth, we have Jesus. He promises to be with us and to complete the good work He began in our lives (Philippians 1:6).

Following Christ isn’t always easy. At times it’s even painful. Sometimes, He asks us to do things that don’t make sense, don’t feel good, or don’t agree with worldly wisdom. But friends, the insurmountable joy of knowing Him will always be greater than our pain and suffering, greater than our struggle and heartache.

We are in the race, but we are not in it alone!

I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus.
-Philippians 3:12

Christ has taken hold of us! He is already working in us to perfect us and make us like Himself.

Jesus doesn’t expect our perfection. He doesn’t demand that we never falter or slow down, or never fall flat on our faces. He has already made up for our deficiencies. He only asks that we keep our eyes fixed on Him and our bodies running hard after the goal. And He Himself promises to hold us, especially when we lose our strength.

Like Paul, we have not yet attained our prize, but we can rest in the confidence that our God is working in us. So let’s faithfully run hard after the prize. Run hard after Jesus.

Run in such a way to win the prize.
-1 Corinthians 9:24

Post Comments (105)

105 thoughts on "Reaching Forward"

  1. Bri says:

    Wow, I needed this so much today. A song that brilliantly captures the heart of this devotional is "My Revival" by Lauren Daigle. You should check it out if you connected with Missy's words. :)

    1. Leah says:

      Bri, how funny is that, I just attended a Lauren Daigle concert and have been listening to that song all week, but never thinking of it like this! thank you! Jesus works in crazy ways :)

  2. Monica Medizky says:

    I'm just so thankful for having these devotionals everyday. May God continue blessing and guiding all of you at SRT. I'm in the middle of a law competition and it's been very hard and time demanding, and reading this today made me realize so many things God wants me to understand and learn from this experience…it's amazing. Big hugs from Bogotá, Colombia.

  3. bellissimanh says:

    Many (many) years ago, a promising Greek artist named Timanthes was under the instruction of a well-known tutor. After several years, the young painter created an exquisite portrait. He was so thrilled with what he had painted that he sat, day after day, gazing at his work.

    One morning, however, he was horrified to discover that his teacher had deliberately ruined his painting. Angry and in tears, Timanthes ran to him and asked why he had destroyed his cherished possession. The wise man replied, "I did it for your own good. That painting was retarding your progress. It was an excellent piece of art, but it was not perfect. Start again and see if you can do even better." The student took his advice and produced a masterpiece called "Sacrifice of Iphigenia," regarded by some as one of the finest paintings of antiquity.

    I wonder if I don't do something similar when it comes to my walk with the Lord. It can be tempting to look back on my journey, see how far I've come (with God's help), and relax – pleased with the progress we've made. I compare who I am now with who I used to be, and feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction… losing sight of the fact that there is still much more work to be done. God has done some amazing things in my life, and I'm in awe of the changes he has brought in my heart… but I can't let that keep me from pressing forward. I am not yet the woman He wants me to be, and I need to keep running this race with all I have in me. Even Paul knew the dangers of getting stuck in the past:

    "My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead. Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:10-14)

    Here's to pressing on… He is worth the journey!

    1. Angela says:

      I love that analogy. Thank you so much for sharing!

    2. Rochelle says:

      I needed to hear this today. Thanks for your insight!

  4. TGBTG says:

    Philippians 3:12 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.
    This should be the motto of all Christians. Paul did not profess to know it all or live it all as a follower of Christ so how can any of us claim to? Always we should be humble in our intellectual religious knowledge and unselfish in our spiritual Christian knowledge. By our example, as with Paul, will we fulfill our calling to bring unbelievers to God. Not with the arrogance of flesh because we can quote the bible, or because we volunteer at church or lead a study or any number of other works, but because we were kind, thoughtful, considerate, unselfish with time and talents. It will be because we shared the word of God after we listened to the heart of the person we are with ; so that we are ministering to their needs not our earthly need to be recognized for biblical knowledge. Like Paul, we admit our failures and press forward to perfect our behavior, thoughts and deeds to take hold of the grace and love that God holds for us and out to us, to share with others.

  5. Jennifer says:

    I love how Missy talks about how she may still be running the race, but is she running with a goal to win the prize? Is there fire and passion to win still? What a great reminder because I know I’m guilty of just being satisfied with a participation ribbon from time to time.

  6. Frances says:

    Jesus is all that matters. And I’m glad He’s in the race with me. I pray God would help me keep my eyes on Him.

  7. tabitha_n says:

    "If we have nothing else on this earth, we have Jesus." That lone statement says it all.

    I find that it is so easy to get lost in the race (of life) and sadly, my spiritual life tends to take the fall. It's easy to see when I've neglected household chores…clothes pile up, dishes pile up, garbage needs to go out, plants are drooping. The same is true with our spouses and children….they (especially the kids) let me know when they are deprived of my full attention. Work, responsibilities, commitments…things of this world always seem to take precedent, I think because they are literally begging for attention. But God doesn't approach us that way, He is gentle. We must turn to Him, acknowledge and give verbal thanks for all the graces that He has bestowed. We have to see the prizes that our Father has laid out for us each day not just the one awaiting in heaven. We must transform our way of thinking from looking towards the end of the race as being at the ends of our lives, to the end of the race being at the end of each and every day. His love never fails and there are graces (prizes) bestowed to us daily, we must be open to receiving them.

  8. Rhonda says:

    I am always amazed how my morning reading of, She Reads The Truth, lifts me up..I pick up my coffee ..breathe in it's peace and exhale the doubt, fear, disappointments of the day before..Some days the race has me going around in circles and I get so tired chasing my own tail (Like the Israelites It's one more time around the mountain..)..Thanks for the reminder..This is the day the Lord has made not only will I rejoice..I will fix my eyes on him..stay the course and even If I run my day in the manner of a tortoise I can be sure that He who began this good work in me is faithful and will bring it to completion..I'm not where I need to be ..But not where I used to be..I'm on my way..

    1. Rhonda, thank you so much for joining us and bringing a ton of encouragement this morning!


      1. Nikki says:

        Thanks Rhonda, this really spoke to me too!

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