Sunday, July 18, 2010

Pressing On

Sammy Wanjiru Triumphs in Chicago Marathon
Sammy Wanjiru Triumphs in Chicago Marathon

I was reading a post over at Alisa’s blog (Faith Imagined) called Foot Promise, in which she discusses the promises of Jesus and the struggle we face in achieving them. If you haven’t read it then, do not hesitate…just go there now! It gave me so much food for thought that I found myself leaving her a scroll instead of a comment. Realizing that I was being a little too expressive, I resolved my dilemma by deciding to write a post on one sentence which I found was most inspirational to me:

"As we seek Jesus, though, He compels us forward by faith"

It reminded of what Paul expressed in Philippians:

"I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus"1

On the surface, this may seem as if Paul is saying, in spite of the difficulties I face in this life, I am committed to continue until I hear the voice of my Savior call me to be with Him. But if I were to imagine I were Paul for a moment, I would say,

I am not just committed to continue! No. I am pursuing Christ with every fiber of life in me! Have there been times when I’ve been tired? Yes. Hungry? Yes, that too. Have I faced threats on my life? Yes, but it has only made me pursue Christ even more.

Oftentimes, pursuing Christ was the least of my concerns but time and experience have taught me the value of remaining hungry as I pursue Him. Not as if He is some kind of prey for my prayers! No, the issue (for me) is do I want to hear that upward call? Can you imagine what it will be like to hear the voice of our Lord calling you to, Come up here.

But how can I hear the upward call of Christ Jesus (enabling me to continue my pursuit)? And is it the call that's really compelling me or is there something else at work? As I examine these questions, I see (for me) that it isn’t so much me as it is Christ working in my life because:

"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…"2

So it is Christ compelling me to go on by strengthening my faith in Him. Christ envelopes my life to the degree that I see Him standing in three distinct ways that compel me to pursue Him:
  1. Christ stands before me
  2. Christ stands behind me
  3. Christ stands within me
Christ stands before me, calling me to stand firm in my faith towards Him. We are told that when we have done all we can do…we must stand. Standing seems such a passive act but in reality it is the method that we experience the redemptive power of God. I think back to when I first accepted Christ and I did nothing; I had no power to do anything but hear and believe. A soldier can stand guard duty but eventually he will be relieved. But no one will stand for me to relieve my stance for Christ. As Christ stands, so stand I. When times get tough and I’m weary and exhausted, He says,

"Come unto Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest…"3

Christ stands behind me, encouraging me to remember that:

"I have been young, and now I’m old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, or his descendants begging bread."4

Christ loves to encourage us; reminding us of previous times when we’ve faced some dire circumstance in our lives. He reminds us because He knows how easily we forget. How terrible would it be if you looked back through your life and had no memory; to have amnesia? Left to ourselves, we would often experience spiritual amnesia. When you remember how you made it through the storm of your life, that’s Christ encouraging you with a reminder, that, He never fails.

Christ stands within me, the resurrected Son of God strengthens me to pursue Him by faith, compelling me to press on. It really is no longer I but Christ in me, my hope of glory. He has convinced me that,

"…I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you."5

So I’m compelled to pursue Christ through the power of God working in me, changing me, renewing me, energizing me, compelling me to press on and be a new man; a man of faith. I don’t know about you but I want to hear Jesus call me. I want to hear the voice of triumph.

Is there anyone or anything to stop your compelling pursuit of Christ?

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? ... But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us."6

Will you stop if your company lays you off or your business fails?

Will you stop if the utility company turns off your lights?

What will stop you?

Will you stop if they call you that crazy Christian?

If they talk about you, will you stop?

Will the economy stop you?

Will politics stop you?

What will stop you?


Don’t you want to hear Christ call your name? Is Christ in you compelling you to press on?

Lord Jesus, I want to press on toward you in faith. Right now I see an obstacle in my path but it’s not the first obstacle I’ve faced. I know of your love for me because you've delivered me before. I’m going to trust you right now to deliver me again. May you hear my praise of you, thanking you for this victory. Amen.

Footnotes:
  1. Philippians 3:14, NASB
  2. Galatians 2:20, NASB
  3. Matthew 11:28, NASB
  4. Psalm 37:25, NASB
  5. Hebrews 13:5, NASB
  6. Romans 8:35-37, NASB
References:
  1. The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6
  2. Nike running events, Chicago Marathon, image courtesy of Nike, Inc.

9 comments:

Lloyd said...

Thank you so much for this inspiring and uplifting message. As Christian we all need to be focused on Jesus who will help with all our burdens and obstacles that the world throws into your paths. I am praying with you that I have the courage to press on toward our Lord and that my faith is strong enough to keep the devil from tempting me. We have the victory in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen, Amen, Amen

sarah said...

good message. He paid it all...and I'm so grateful for that. I want to live my best life...b/c of Him...and for HIm. Thanks for this.

Faith Imagined said...

I loved this line: "Left to ourselves, we would often experience spiritual amnesia." I think spiritual amnesia is what causes us to worry and doubt.

Too quickly we forget all the amazing blessings and miracles God has already done in our lives. I think that is why God was so big on throwing celebrations for the miracles He has done. He didn't want His chosen people to forget.

Thanks for this post and for the wonderful comment! I love imagining Jesus behind, before and in me!

DC said...

Amen! Good food for thought!

Dean Spencer said...

MTJ -

Great post. I think the picture of the man running a marathon is a perfect picture of Paul pressing toward the goal, and all believers for that matter.

One aspect of pressing on in faith is knowing that as in 1 John 5:3-5, we are overcomers through Christ! Nothing will deter us nor keep us for living out our lives faithfully to Him.

1 John 5:4b
"This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith."

Teresa said...

I so loved this line too, "Left to ourselves, we would often experience spiritual amnesia." This post is very insightful and a blessing to remind myself and remember Whom we get to serve moment by moment! The thought provoking questions are powerful as well! I am so blessed by the Lord through your post and blog!

MTJ said...

Lloyd: I'm reminded daily to press on, I don't want to lose this race.

Sarah: Yes indeed, Christ has paid a price I could never afford.

Alisa: I think it's easy to forget what God has done for me, when things are going well. The challenge I face is reminding myself each day of His goodness.

DC: Thanks so much...much love my daughter.

Dean: For me this is another challenge I face as a Christian. I have the intellectual assent that I'm an overcomer but I must pair it with the practical experience of living the life of an overcomer.

Teresa: Thanks for sharing your positive, encouraging and affirming blog. Today was my first visit but I look forward to reading more of your writings.

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

I think everyone has moments, like St. Paul, when the holding on has to be deliberate at least for a little while. We are such a questioning creation.

MTJ said...

Elizabeth: I believe that I simply don't know and God (in His perfect wisdom) knows this and encourages me to ask, to talk to Him, to share with Him my thoughts, needs, fears and joys. When lacking wisdom, I should ask God.