“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, But I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet: but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12–14
It really comes down to thinking like a goldfish. You may have heard somewhere that goldfish have very short memories. Supposedly, they remember things for about three seconds, and then they are on to something else. (In fact, that is not actually true. As fish go, they have pretty good memory capacity, or so I’m told.) I bring this up because it is a good illustration to go along with this passage of Scripture. Let me explain.
My son-in-law, Jake, coaches his son’s little league baseball team. He graciously allows me to help him. The team is made up of 12 boys who are eight years old, so he really does appreciate all the help he can get. Eight-year-old boys are not a lot different from anyone else in one respect, and it is this. They don’t respond well when they make mistakes or when bad things happen. They don’t like striking out, missing a fly ball, or losing a game. When they do, they tend to be very hard on themselves and others. They want to quit or blame the umpire for their failure. Whenever this happens, we tell the boys to be a goldfish. We tell them that goldfish have a three-second memory, and then they get back to doing what they need to do. Goldfish don’t focus on the past. They just keep swimming forward. When we can convince these boys to let go of their dropped ball, strike out, or lose a game, it helps them become better all-around players, and they enjoy the game much more.
The same is true for our Christian experience. Many times, I have missed an opportunity to do something great for God or be a blessing to someone else because I remember a past failure or disappointment. I am so concerned about something that happened in the past that I miss the possibilities of the future or the present. We must focus on “forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.” We must remember that as we press on toward the goal, we will occasionally experience a setback. Setbacks are not fatal. We can learn from them, and they will make us stronger.
One last baseball example. What do you call a professional baseball player who has a lifetime batting average of .300? (That means that for every 10 times at bat, he got on base three times). You call him a “Hall of Famer!” The point is this, Christian, keep swinging the bat for the Lord and be a goldfish! The Lord will take care of the rest.
Questions for Thought
- What past failures or disappointments are holding you back from pressing on? Surrender those to the Lord today.
- What is something the Lord has called you to do? Don’t let the fear of failure hold you back from obeying Him.
Executive Pastor of Ministries
Ryland believes the church should be the center of our community, operating as a New Testament church to serve as “home” for thousands of people. Ryland and his wife, Renea, have two married daughters, Shea and Kelsi, and four grandchildren.