Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Phil 3:13-14 (NKJ)
While watching the New Year’s Day football game, my rotund, furry, well fed dog sat squarely in front of me. Her pleading brown eyes worked hard to assure me that if she didn’t get at least one bite of the chips and dip I was enjoying, she might not survive. Correcting the inappropriate begging behavior, I told her to “go on” which is translated by her doggy ears as “stop looking at mom while she’s eating.” Obedient canine that she is, she moved forward two steps, made a 180 degree turned and plopped down again. “Good girl” I affirmed her. After a crunching on a few more corn chips I casually glanced in her direction. This time, although her entire body was still positioned away from me, she was craning her neck in a way that she was able to turn her entire head and face backward. Her chin now resting on her back she began to wag her tail just slightly when I began to laugh. As obedient as she was being, she was being equally disobedient.
I can understand her dilemma. Sometimes it is difficult to “not look back.” For some, this past year was tremendous; one which held great victories, great favor, great accomplishments and great memories. There have been life impacting events which took place that will be forever etched into your mind. The birth of a child, a grandchild, a career changing promotion, a life changing revelation, and freedom you have never known before; it is vital to appreciate, celebrate and commemorate the goodness and faithfulness of God. And yet, we must look forward. Even when looking back at the “good things” if we look back too hard, too much, for too long, we can get distracted from that next place that the Lord wants to take us. It brings to mind those individuals who I have seen jumping hurdles in track and field competitions. Continually facing forward, as soon as they jump one obstacle, their eyes are immediately upon the next, the goal to arrive at the finish line. Not once have I ever seen a competitor jump over those first few hurdles and then stop, sit down in the middle of the track and celebrate. Instead, facing forward, they continue on to finish the race.
For others, this was a year like no other for different reasons. Perhaps difficulty, hardship and pain were what you felt this year mostly had to offer. Perhaps your own poor choices or someone else’s had something to do with it; instead maybe it was only the circumstances of life that were able to wear you down. Different circumstances, same destination… face forward. Choose not to determine to allow your “has been” to determine your “is” or your “will be.”
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
His plan for you is to continue to move forward. As we begin this New Year I encourage you to thank Him for what you have gleaned after the gift given of another year of life. The lessons learned, the obstacles overcome, the accomplishments achieved. Praise Him for His goodness and faithfulness to walk you through even the most difficult of circumstances. Offer Him any unresolved hurt, anger or bitterness that lingers. Humble yourself, submit your will to His and prepare your heart to receive. Face forward child of God…Face Forward.
Father, help me to face forward and embrace all that you have for me this year.