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 3:13-14 NIV (Emphasis mine)
Failures and setbacks can so easily derail us. In the midst of difficulties it is tempting to give up. If our focus is on the problems and on the past, it can shape our future by preventing us from pressing on. This is true in our physical lives and in our spiritual lives.
Our enemy, the devil, would like nothing better than to see us defeated, and for us to not realize who we are in Christ Jesus. The enemy wants us to believe his lies. He knows that we are conquerors in Christ, but he tells us that we are failures, or that we are unlovable, or that God is angry with us. The enemy wants us to be ineffective in our Christian walk. If he can keep people from coming in faith to Jesus, it delights the devil. Giving up or only partially trying results in defeat.
We can learn from Men’s Figure Skater Nathan Chen. After Chens’s three mistakes in the short program in the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games, he was 13th in ranking. In his interview with NBC Sports [i], he shared that he felt like giving up. “There’s no point.” He said. “I should just go home.” He was encouraged to stay and finish the competition.
Chen finished and found redemption. How? Chen said he adjusted his mind set. “I was no longer over analyzing things or putting as much pressure on myself.” He reverted to his training and utilized what he had worked on in his training. He stated, “I can never go back and adjust it [his short skate program]…just look forward…clean up the mistakes that I made.” Chen did so well in the longer free skate that followed that he earned 215 points, better than his previous best of 204 points. He placed 5th in PyeongChang in 2018. Chen said, “We definitely learn from our failures the best, so I’m not going to forget what happened in 2018… Just take it for what it is. Learn from whatever I can and continue moving forward.” Now, four years later at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, I think Chen continued to learn from his past failures and continued moving forward. He won the Olympic gold medal in Men’s Figure Skating.
Our goal is to win the prize for which God has called us. That calling of God goes throughout our lives until we are in heaven with Him.
Let’s adjust our mindset. Instead of dwelling on past mistakes, may we learn from them so that we don’t repeat them. Let’s not listen to the enemy’s accusations or to his lies that we will never be good enough for God to care about us.
Let’s go back to our training, to the fundamentals of faith. Here is a partial list:
- Recognize that we are all sinners (Romans 2:23). Confess sin moment by moment as needed. Keep the communication line clear with our Coach, the Holy Spirit.
- Remember that when we confess our sin, God doesn’t keep bringing it up again. He forgives us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9 NKJV) It is the devil who accuses. Jesus stands beside our Heavenly Father as our advocate and defender. (I John 2:1)
- Know Who God really is, not the box we may put Him into. Read Scripture about God’s character and attributes.
- Regularly read and follow the training manual, the Bible. Memorize verses that give instruction to living a godly life. Work on the training we receive.
- Obey what God says. Apply what God teaches.
- Pray. God wants us to come to Him. Prayer is talking with God, and listening for His reply. It may not be in an audible voice, but the Holy Spirit will guide us. We need to be quiet to listen to Him.
- Remember that we belong to Him. God is with us and in us. The One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (I John 4:4 b )
- Tell the good news of Jesus Christ to others.
- Fellowship with other believers.
Let’s forget what is behind and press on toward the goal. Finish well.
Dear Lord, Help me to press ahead and follow You every day. Please help me to finish my race well. Amen.