Press on

The Covington News - - Religion - John Don­ald­son Re­li­gion Colum­nist

To­day is the 361st day of the year. There are only five days left of 2008. As we get ready to break out the new cal­en­dars there is bound to be some ret­ro­spec­tion, but be­fore we get too car­ried away think­ing about the past, let’s re­mem­ber a few words from the Apos­tle Paul.

“ My friends, I don’t feel that I have al­ready ar­rived. But I for­get what is be­hind, and I strug­gle for what is ahead. I run to­ward the goal, so that I can win the prize of be­ing called to heaven. This is the prize that God of­fers be­cause of what Christ Je­sus has done,” ( Philip­pi­ans 3: 13-15 CEV).

If there ever was a per­son who had rea­son to dwell on the list of his ac­com­plish­ments, it was the Apos­tle Paul. He was a highly ed­u­cated Rabbi and a Ro­man Ci­ti­zen, who could move eas­ily be­tween Jew and Gen­tile alike.

Au­tho­rized by the Jewish lead­er­ship to ar­rest the Jewish fol­low­ers of Je­sus, Paul, whose He­brew name was “ Saul,” was trans­formed on the road to Da­m­as­cus by a vi­sion of Je­sus Christ. “ Saul, Saul, why are you per­se­cut­ing me?” Je­sus asked him.

Saul / Paul be­came a Chris­tian and one of the great­est evan­ge­lists in his­tory. It was Paul who be­gan to share the faith with the Gen­tiles. It was Paul who trav­eled back and forth across Asia Mi­nor, seem­ing to start a new con­gre­ga­tion at ev­ery stop.

It was Paul who was led by the Holy Spirit to cross the Aegean Sea and bring Chris­tian­ity to Europe — an event with huge his­tor­i­cal ram­i­fi­ca­tions. And it was Paul’s con­cern for the new church that led him to write let­ters to the con­gre­ga­tions, 14 of which were in­cluded in the New Tes­ta­ment. Paul’s in­flu­ence on Chris­tian­ity is sec­ond only to Je­sus’. Surely if any­one had rea­son to sit back and say, “ wow, I sure have ac­com­plished a lot” — it was the Apos­tle Paul. But his words are, “ I don’t feel that I have al­ready ar­rived, but I for­get what is be­hind, and I strug­gle for what is ahead — I run to­ward the goal.” The year 2008 is al­most gone. Smile at your suc­cesses, hold up the T-shirt, look at the pic­tures and en­joy the praise, well done.

Now let it go. There is work to be done. Press on.

And, what of the mis­takes of 2008? Now say this with me, “ That was in 2008.” The past does not need to de­fine the fu­ture. Learn from the past, but let the fu­ture be de­fined by your choice to fol­low Je­sus.

Like a Boy Scout nav­i­gat­ing across county with a com­pass, set your com­pass to Je­sus, and if you take a wrong step or two, just look at the com­pass again, get your bear­ings and press on.

A brand new year is just about to be­gin — a new page to write on, a new can­vass of time on which to paint, a new se­mes­ter in the school of life. Lord will­ing we have 365 more op­por­tu­ni­ties to do some­thing, to ac­com­plish some­thing, to achieve some­thing for the glory of God. Keep your eyes on Je­sus and press on!

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