Have you ever just chased your tail? The harder you seem to work at something, the more difficult it seems to become. You never seem to "catch up", never seem to fully "grasp" the goal. In the end, you just stand there in total frustration, more in a muddle than you were when you first began. Just as quickly as we started, we find ourselves out of energy to continue to journey! We stop short of the goal - never really crossing the finish line. What a waste.
Paul writes to the Philippian church, reminding them of the importance of staying focused. His honesty in the first part of this chapter just thrills my heart. He recounts the various degrees he has obtained, lists the various "things" the world looks upon as measures of success, and reminds us of the senselessness of relying on any of these to give us prominence or importance in the Kingdom of God.
His honesty is recounted in these words: "I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back." (vs. 12-14) He hasn't "arrived" - and neither have we!
He is open about the struggle (the strain) it takes to reach the goal set out before us. He isn't the "expert", but he knows the voice of his God beckoning him onward. Here we find the point of most of our failure - in the hearing of God's voice beckoning us onward. We all struggle with the "stretch" once in a while, but sometimes we struggle more than others - either because we hear and don't respond, or because we just refuse to hear.
So let's keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you'll see it yet! Now that we're on the right track, let's stay on it. (Philippians 3:15-16 The Message)
Anything less than total commitment really is not commitment! Commitment suggests engagement - active participation. Therefore, anything less is really "dis-engagement". Paul's reminder to us is of the need for total engagement. Throughout scripture, we see accounts of many who start well, then get off-course along the way. Why? It usually begins in the "listening". We "hear" a lot of stuff - what we "listen to" is what affects us the deepest. I have shared many times - listening is an action, not a passive process. Listening is indeed engagement.
It makes no sense to hear clear direction and then ignore it, right? Yet, we do! We read God's Word, become acquainted with is will for us, then just go on without ever "conforming" to his will. Paul reminds us it is all a matter of focus - the clearer our focus, the easier it is to stay on track. It is God who gives us clarity - it is up to us what we do with the clarity we receive!