None of us is exactly what God wants us to be, are we? We all struggle with just a little bit of the same things - we may just call them different names. Regardless of what we call the things which keep us from being entirely what God wants us to be, we haven't reached our goal. What is that "goal"? Many times we go through life without ever asking that question - where am I headed, why is it important for me to get there, and what will it take for me to realize the goal? For a long time, I saved money, but had no idea how to invest it, or how much I'd actually need to save in order to reach some goals, such as paying off the house mortgage or being able to retire from a full-time job. It took me a while to realize without a goal, I'd just continue to be half-hearted in my saving. It took a plan. God has plans for our lives and he is quite willing to share those plans with us - to know where we are headed, why it is important for us to get there, and what it will take for us to take the steps toward that goal. All we have to do is ask!
I don’t mean that I am exactly what God wants me to be. I have not yet reached that goal. But I continue trying to reach it and make it mine. That’s what Christ Jesus wants me to do. It is the reason he made me his. Brothers and sisters, I know that I still have a long way to go. But there is one thing I do: I forget what is in the past and try as hard as I can to reach the goal before me. I keep running hard toward the finish line to get the prize that is mine because God has called me through Christ Jesus to life up there in heaven. All of us who have grown to be spiritually mature should think this way too. And if there is any of this that you don’t agree with, God will make it clear to you. But we should continue following the truth we already have. (Philippians 3:12-16 ERV)
Realizing the goals Christ has for our lives requires some things from us, just like any other goals we set in life. We have a part to play and we must be faithful in playing that part or we will just be aimless in our walk.
- We must forget what is in the past. We ALL have a past. None of us is immune to the memories of the past, although we may try to block out some of those more painful and disappointing ones. The past has a way of weighing us down, like an anchor holding a ship firmly in place. Until we let go of whatever it is which links us to where we once were - how we once lived - we won't be able to move fully into where it is God desires us to live today.
- We have to exhibit a tenacity toward achieving our goal. No one achieves something they desire just because it "happens" that way. We achieve because we put forth some effort on our part. There have been a couple of times in life when I lost weight without really trying, but as soon as the physical condition was "fixed" within my body which was causing me to shed the weight, the weight went back on. I may have been at my desired weight, but I didn't get there because of anything I did! To stay there would have required some effort on my part, but I was so glad to be over my illness each time that I just went back to the same way of eating and guess what happened to my weight. You got it! It was right back on me! It doesn't take much from us at times to get us headed in the right direction - but it does take some tenacity to stick with it once we are finally moving in that direction!
- We have to realize we are called to run toward our goal. It isn't just because we "want" it that we are moving toward it - it is an actual calling to achieve it! When we begin to see the goal as something we were appointed to actually achieve, we might just face the goal a little differently. Most of the time, we set goals for ourselves which WE have to do all the work to achieve in our lives. When we realize the goal of finishing this race toward the development of solid Christian character is something Christ has actually appointed us to achieve, not in our own efforts, but because we partner with him to run this race to the finish, we see the race a little differently. We begin to run because we know we will win, not because we "hope" to win.
- We run according the truth we presently have - not the truth we think we must attain in order to run "better" or "harder". We have been given truth and all that is required of us is to walk in the truth we have already been given. We might think we need more truth, but if we are faithful to use what we already have, God will begin to add to the truth. It is like when we begin to use the muscle and energy we already possess to do whatever we can to begin an exercise program for our physical body. We may start out pretty lame in the realm of endurance and distance, but in time, we find the one block gets to be two, the two becomes four, and before long, we are doing a mile without even straining. Why? We used what we had been given and then allowed the rest to "develop" within us as we were faithful in the small stuff. This is the principle of how God helps us realize goals in our lives - using the little we have been given to accomplish the much he has prepared for us! Just sayin!