This week I had the great joy of refecting on Philippians 3:7-14 for World Relief.  I love this devotional series… simple, hopeful, real– the scritpures and thoughts of all those involved are like deep calling to deep.  If you are interested in “rediscovering Lent” and taking a deeper journey toward this Easter season, I highly recommend the thoughts found here:  Journey toward Easter

Easter lent

“You can do better than this! Come on!!”

This is the voice in my head most days. Mistakes dog my steps, attitudes pull me down, sin wants to define me. But my good Midwestern “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” mindset kicks in like clockwork.

“Just forget about it…”

Ah, but forgetting what is done is hard. Really hard.The past marks us.

Victim.

Failure.

Illegitimate.

Rebel.

Enemy.

Pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps is not forgetting. Bootstrapping is a way of hiding. Forgetting is actually turning away and moving forward, moving toward what is worth remembering. But moving beyond the past can be a herculean task. Like a prize fighter dancing in the corner and shouting to the watching world, our past taunts us.

Make no mistake, the past has a wicked left hook.

You take it on the chin, feeling your body go limp as the gravity of the former things pulls you down to the mat, the blood at the corner of your mouth tasting like defeat. The crowd hushes and the count begins. The tears are real. The pain is real. The loss, the sin, the regret are all real.

Giving up is real.

Five. Six…

Come on now, get up.

Seven. Eight… Get up off the mat!

Nine…Press on!

You are not counted out yet. When you muster the courage to forget the past, turning your eyes away from the former things, you will glimpse something new, something beautiful. The prize is very real.

Jesus fought and won this fight for us long ago. He took home an unbelievably valuable purse: Peace that passes understanding. Forgiveness of every wrong. Light in the dark. Unspeakable joy. Freedom from the past and the promise of a future.

If we strain to let go of the weight of the old life, the fear of failure, the pain of the punch, Jesus himself will raise us up, endowing us with the power to defeat not only our past, but the very spirit of death itself.

All this will be ours if we keep our eyes on the prize and muster the courage to pick ourselves up off the mat.

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