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. Philippians 3:12 (EHV).
If you’re reading this, you’re still alive here on the Third Rock; duh. You and I: we are still pressing on to take hold of eternal life. Paul has already entered there; he’s in heaven. That’s the reason Jesus came to him and remade his life. It’s the reason why Jesus did the same thing to you and me.
Yet we need to work to maintain our grip on our faith in Him when we’re tempted and laid low in this fallen world. Have you ever considered that, when you feel beaten down because you’re been attacked over and over again, you’re being attacked precisely because your faith is stronger? Satan has to work even harder to get you. Some people roll over easily; they’re an easy conquest. Yet others require more effort. If you’re being attacked again and again, perhaps you aren’t one of those easy conquests.
Perhaps you believe more in this goal for which Christ Jesus took hold of you. Perhaps you struggle harder, fight tougher, beat back the evil one more precisely because you ARE tougher for him to overcome.
Paul understood that. For decades after his conversion on that Syrian pathway he struggled against attacks from the physical and spiritual realms. Yet he learned quickly that the only way he could continue to press forward – to really work for eternity – was to submit himself to Jesus. To double down in his faith. To come to Jesus when he had prayers of both anguish and thanksgiving; when he had anything at all to say. As long as he lived here on good old terra firma, Paul pressed forward with one eye on where he was and the other on the road forward.
He did it for the same reason we should: eternity matters most. Jesus came here to make eternity with Him possible for us, knowing full-well that we would be challenged, tempted, burdened, stressed-out, and attacked every day by the unseen world that was hostile to His love. Jesus pushed all that to the side when He pushed aside the rock in the garden and walked out of His tomb. He knew we would be savaged every day, so He wanted to give us something worth fighting for, worth struggling over, worth pressing on towards.
That was then. This is now. Here and now, we’re still alive, and since we woke up today, we GET TO fight the good fight again. To ask forgiveness for yesterday’s sins while giving praise for a new day today. Then we get up, look forward, and press on.
For further reading: 1 Corinthians 13:10, 1 Timothy 6:12, Philippians 3:13.
Lord I need you and struggle for You. Abide with me, strengthen me, forgive me, and teach me again today Your better ways.