I wish I could ingrain Paul's words in 3:12-15 into every heart and mind of everyone I meet. Too many of us are shackled by our past; too many of us are weighed down by past successes and failures, by what has been done to us and by what we have done -- too many of us are wracked by guilt and shame and our histories. Paul reminds the Christ follower that our history ought no longer control us. We are forgiven, adopted children of God. We do not live in the past we live in the present with our eyes and lives focused on the future. 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 (3:13-14). . ." The difference we could make if we would just shift our gaze from what was to what could be is enormous.
I think that thinking is at the root of the famous Robert F. Kennedy quote: "Some men see things as they are and say "why." I dream things that never were and say "why not." Instead of lamenting the state of the present world and lamenting the choices and decisions that got us here why not dream of a better world, a Kingdom of God World and strive and strain forward to attain it?
Think of this on a more personal level. I am working to get healthier. I work out 3-4 times a week. I walk, I have been watching my diet very carefully (for the last 3 weeks now ). I could choose to focus on all of the other times I have started this journey and failed. I could choose to focus on all of the missteps and mistakes I have made in the past. I am pretty sure focusing on past failures would greatly enhance the possibility of a present failure. Instead of wondering why, I could see the prize, the goal, the dream, the vision: the picture of a preferred future and, forgetting what has happened in the past, make every effort to push forward to achieve what I am striving to achieve.
On the spiritual level this is even more profoundly important. All too often, on this journey in Christ, we strive, we try and we fail and we sit down in the midst of our failure and we stop trying. All too often something doesn't work as planned or is rebuffed by those we were counting on, and instead of checking the connections we stop trying. One of my mentors quipped: life is easy I am either up or getting up. One of my former Bishops used to say "falling flat on your face is just another way of moving forward." I want to try, and try, and try and keep trying until I break through (P.U.S.H. -- pray until something happens -- was a credo we used in college).
Forget what was, let it go, and remember we were all called to greater things than this. Press on to the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus!