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. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise God will reveal that also to you. Phil. 3:13-15
I am a planner by nature. I prefer to chart a course and lay out all the steps along the way, attempting to ensure that I have all the bases covered. This way I can “be sure” that I won’t be surprised by anything that would derail my carefully laid plans. (haha this is where dreaming begins!)
Anyone who has been around the Lord long enough understands that we can plan and plot, but the Lord is the one who directs our steps (Prov. 16:9). An essential part of any good planning is to set goals. There are many different kinds of goals people set for themselves; weight loss, financial, personal, relational just to name a few of them. Regardless of the goals you have there should be one primary and overriding goal for each day; that is to become more like Christ.
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; Romans 8:29 (NASB)
All of our experiences of daily life should be leading us to become more like Jesus. The people, places and activities of living here are designed by God to chip away at the rough edges of who we are and reshape us into the image of God. We tend to want to avoid those things, the “sandpaper” people who we see as annoying or overly difficult to deal with when in fact, they are the very instruments the Master Surgeon uses to conform us.
This process demands work and diligence. Change is not a passive activity, you must put forth the effort necessary in each day you are given on this earth. This is part of what Paul called pressing on toward the goal. Some of the changes are long-term projects and these tend to be most discouraging for us. We would like to see immediate change, instant Christ-likeness and this is not possible for those areas in which our idolatrous desires are deeply entrenched.
Sometimes my counselee’s express concerns that things aren’t happening fast enough and they worry about God becoming frustrated with them. Others will tell me they feel like a failure because they continue to strive to overcome and find themselves failing time and time again. They can’t wait for the day when they have reached the end of that time in their life. Living in the day is the biblical approach even when having change and conformation as your goal.
What I say is that the journey is part of the process, and God is faithful! He will consistently present you with opportunities to succeed and demonstrate the changed heart through your actions.
I also know the importance of forgetting what is behind. Each of your failures is a part of the tapestry of your life that God is creating. Maybe you have had a significant time of struggle, perhaps you have failed many times in a particular area and you are greatly discouraged. The reality is that there is nothing you can do about those past failures except learn from them. Examine them in the light of figuring out where you went wrong and then make a plan for a new direction to take the next time you are confronted with the situation again.
As each year rolls by, you should be able to detect growth and change within and without. Others should be able to see areas in your life in which conformation has taken place. When this is your overarching goal, change will take place and God will be glorified.