I started writing a post this morning about all the things about myself that drive me crazy. I’m not the person I want to be.
Thankfully, I’ve abandoned that self-indulgent bit of navel-gazing for the time being.
This is better:
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13-14 ESV
Isn’t that good? There’s so much wisdom in that passage! Still, it’s the straining forward that wipes me out. Seriously. It’s really easy to lose sight of the prize.
We have an upward call. Up. Higher. Further up and further in.
I have a call on my life. Many calls, actually. God has called me to be a husband and a father and to sacrifice for my family. He’s called me to be his son, growing in relationship to him. He’s called me to spread the great news about Jesus to others and to be his ambassador at work and on campus and in my neighborhood. He’s specifically called me to make disciples of Jesus among the college students that surround us in this part of town. All of these calls lead upward.
Gravity pulls me downward. That’s why all of these calls are often a strain and require pressing on. It’s hard.
Gravity isn’t hard. The downward calls on my life are easy, really.
I don’t have to “press on” toward being depressed or “strain forward” toward feeling resentments and anger. I don’t have to strive to be lazy or dig deep to work up some despair. There’s no great effort expended in saying the wrong thing or missing the mark. It’s no trouble at all to ignore my neighbors and lock myself in my fortress each night.
God calls us upward. We are downward people. That’s why it’s a miracle when we find ourselves pressing on.
Christ, as always, leads in leading us upward. I think it’s meaningful that the most heart-wrenching scene in the gospel narrative is of Jesus, already torn and bleeding, carrying his cross to Golgotha. He was taking a machete to the wild, untamed jungle of sin that bars the way to the upward call of God, opening the way by the tearing open of his own flesh.
He strained forward. He pressed on toward the goal, the prize, the upward call of his Father.
Because he did, now so can we.