Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Point of Straining Ahead

"Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal ." (Philippians 3:13b-14a)

Surely we should all be "super-Christians" by now. Right? Attend church faithfully? Check. Pray regularly and fervently? Check. Tithing/Giving with a glad heart? Check. Bible reading? Check. Surely we can check "Yes" all the way down the "super-Christian" to-do list by now. Right?

Let us be realistic for a minute, shall we?

Chances are most of us feel as though we have hit some kind of invisible, spiritual ceiling in our Christian walk from time to time. If we are honest, I don't think we would have any problems admitting that we are not perfect Christians. Yet, there is often strife involved in this issue. The good news is that most of us desire to live faithful Christian lives, don't we? The problem is that, despite our best efforts, we grow weary because we so often realize our shortcomings somewhere along the way. Somewhere, we miss a check on our to-do list. Then, it happens. The thought hits us, "Surely we should be further down the Christian maturity road by now?"

Don't get me wrong, I am all about the spiritual disciplines. I believe that we should continually strive to exhibit discipline and self-control in our every day lives. This brings glory to God and better prepares us to lead godly lives before those around us. The righteous man in Psalm 1 was blessed in everything because "his delight is in the Law of the Lord" and "on it he meditates day and night." He exhibited discipline.

I've mentioned both scenarios. I've mentioned that we all want to better exhibit continual Christian growth. But, I've also mentioned that somewhere along the way we fall short of the to-do list expectations. This leads us to the place that I often find myself--stuck somewhere between the to-do list failures and a disciplined, surging Christian walk. I like to call this "the point of straining ahead." This is a point of absolute self-abandonment and submersion in God's grace. It is the point where I find that I cannot and will never be sufficient enough to "grow myself" into Christian maturity by keeping some to-do list. It is complete reliance on the sufficiency of Christ and the determination to continue, by the power of God, seeking to be faithful in those disciplines which prepare me for "that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." (Philippians 3:12b)

Has your to-do list looked awfully shabby lately? Is the frustration setting in? Good. Now you can take a little dive into "the point of straining ahead." Where we realize that God is the only sufficiency for Christian growth. Where we are enabled, by the Spirit of God, to do "immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine." (Ephesians 3:20)

With the sufficiency of Christ and the determination to strain ahead, we are able to "live up to what we have already attained" (Philippians 3:16) and continue forward in Christian growth.

So go ahead. Take a little dive.