I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:15
What was the Apostle Paul really about when he wrote this line? To press towards a goal you have to be actively engaged in exercising, in preparing, in getting in the best shape to press towards any goal and especially to strive towards getting a prize! What I know right now, is that it is cold. Winter is definitely not a season that I enjoy much. It takes away my strength. My thoughts go easily to the need to hibernate, and not to run towards any goal as pointed in this short verse by Paul in his letter to the Philippians. Hibernate sounds appealing to this “girl” who was born to live in a land of palm trees (my claim). Think with me, when you hibernate you rest and sleep, you keep warm, you await for Spring… sounds appealing? … Well, not so simple. I was surprised as I looked a little bit more at “hibernation” to find out that those animals that go to that stage need to prepare for this time of dormancy. They do it with the goal of survival, with the hope of renewed life and strength at the end of that period.
Ok, so here I am, I cannot escape. I am comforted with the need to prepare physically and spiritually to strive towards the call that God has placed in my life. No more excuses of “I need to work long hours; there is so much to do; I enjoy cooking and I need to provide for my family, or even… it is too cold.” No, the gym is my friend and the many paths of this Lehigh Valley (when the weather allows) are my companions to help me keep my body healthy. In fact, as an extrovert, I have discovered that what comes naturally to me is: action, movement and building relationships.
But there is another type of preparation that I personally need to add to the previous one. It is an intentional downtime, a time to pray, a time to read Scripture, a time to rest in the Lord. Silence and solitude, two “unknowns” to my natural inclination. Nevertheless, I am finding out as I intentionally grow in those two spiritual disciples, physical exercise and solitude, those “sacred rhythms” as Ruth Haley Barton so beautifully called these stretching and continuous times of preparation, that God is becoming more alive in my life. I can trust God more. My call in Christ Jesus becomes clearer. As Paul, I strive towards the goal so “that I may gain Christ and be found in him (Phi 3:8b-9a).
So here are a few questions for us to reflect upon:
1) How do you (individually) and we (as the church, the people of God) prepare physically and spiritually to run the race before us?
2) Do you know the call that God has placed in your life?
3) How do you prepare towards fulfilling that call?
4) How do you live your daily life in a way that allows you to grow in Christ and share this renewed hope and life with others?
5) Have you established some healthy sacred rhythms in your life that will stretch and continue to build you up?
Have fun! Strive towards the prize…