The Lectionary reading on Sunday included Philippians 3, a favorite passage where the apostle Paul says, “…this 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 heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Forgetting what lies behind. Straining forward to what lies ahead. Press on toward the goal.
Sometimes we arrive at pivotal points in our journey, and we know it; there’s something in the air, a season change that has reached its fullness, finally. Yes, winter is ending — but more than that, the resurrection of spring may have actually sprung. It is there for us to receive it…if.
If we forget what lies behind.
If we strain forward to what lies ahead.
If we press on toward the goal.
The fact is, nothing is harder than this if. And yet, everything depends on it. Our future depends on it. Our flourishing depends on it. Our identity and calling depend on it.
And every goddamned devil in hell is bound and determined to make sure we miss the opportunity and go straight on backward.
Back to a life of reacting to pain.
Back to a perspective that sees only struggle.
Back to attachments and obligations that drag us directly down.
There’s another favorite passage that’s been on my mind recently, where the apostle makes a simple yet utterly profound statement: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1).
The yoke of slavery is the falseness hanging in the atmosphere of this broken world that seeps into our very pores and leaks into our unsuspecting lungs, slowly choking out the freedom we once knew and which Christ secured for us with his own blood. Lies about who we are, and what the world is. Lies about where we are, and what the future is.
The burdening down and eventual crushing underfoot of hope itself.
We must forget the things that lie behind. Forget them and let them go! But we must remember the thing that Jesus did. We remember that the whole point is freedom — that’s why he set us free! That’s it, baby, that’s the whole game. We remember so that we can muster the courage to forget every frigging thing that lies behind, every goddamned thing that would drag us back into slavery.
We remember so that we may forget. So that we may strain forward. So that we may press on.
So — what will we do with the urgent if of this resurrection-spring?