Press On.

((from Natalie))

I have a chronic condition (it may even be hereditary), it’s called: Procrastination. I joke about it, but realize it isn’t funny to a lot of people, especially those who have to deal with the effects: my (almost habitual) tardiness. Last week, someone I truly care for and respect called me out on it. She was hurt, rightfully so, that I once again, just couldn’t make it on time. I was ashamed that I just-couldn’t-get-it-together by my deadline… I’ve gotten sort of used to the consequences of my problem, but sometimes I forget how the consequences ripple into the lives of others too. I need voices to speak truth to me and to be shown that reminder (insert the holy “ouch” of conviction).

My super type-A husband is just my opposite. He is securely governed by the clock, comfortably locked into his routines and always trying to “beat” the GPS estimated arrival time.  He shepherds me (and our team of kids) out the door with his (almost incessant) countdown updates. I tend to roll my eyes (too much) at him.  But if I were honest, without him, I’d nearly never be at church on time; the bills would be paid late and so on… He would likely tell you that I’ve come a long way from the girl who was often seen sprinting across the high school parking lot to the sound of the first morning bell (sporting wet hair and a toting the baton of a half-eaten banana).  But, he would also tell you that I’ve got a loooong way to go.

On the other hand, he might even tell you that there’s something nice about having his in-the-moment partner pulling him off of the conveyor belt of time and into the present moment.  He occasionally allows me to do things like plan a vacation, take the scenic route, or do some spur-of-the-moment wandering… He might even admit there are some gifts to be found in stopping the clock too.

What I realized when I was getting called out by my pal last week, was that I hadn’t enlisted the needed help of my partner to hold me be accountable to the schedule that my friend and I had established. My husband, in his love for me, would be willing to shepherd me to a hard timeline to help me reach my goal, but I needed to do something first: humbly come to him an admit my imperfection.

This week with Hope is Hard, we are digging into and breaking down some verses from the book of Philippians, Chapter 3. I got assigned to verse 12 and decided to first start digging-in by comparing the words/language used in various Bible translations. As I read them, it became clear that God could use these words to speak to me about my procrastination problem.  Here’s a look at 3 different translations of Philippians 3:12:

Focused on the Goal

 I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me.” –The Message Translation

Pursuing the Goal

It’s not that I have already reached this goal or have already become perfect. But I keep pursuing it, hoping somehow to embrace it just as I have been embraced by the Messiah Jesus.” –International Standard Version

Running toward the Goal

I do not claim that I have already succeeded or have already become perfect. I keep striving to win the prize for which Christ Jesus has already won me to himself.” –Good News Translation

Note the first word in each of these: FOCUSED, PURSUING, RUNNING and the common word in each of the titles: GOAL.  Do you have a goal?  Are you falling short?  Is there an aspect of your sin-nature that you want to improve upon?  Have you reached out to the partner you have in Christ Jesus?  He does not ask that you come to Him with perfection, but instead that you accept holy conviction as propulsion toward Him.  Reach to Him in humility as he reaches out to you.

And when in get’s hard, when you fall, when trials come your way, when hope is hard: Press on.

I like the Bible’s frequent metaphorical use of running because I can really relate.  I have been a runner since about age 13. I remember a particular race in high school when I failed to meet my intended goal.  It was a big Cross Country Invitational (meaning there were many teams in the race).  Many teams make for a crowded start line.  As the starter hollered into a megaphone “ready, set…” I leaned forward in my ready stance. Then, in the very moment that the “go!” of the gun fired – an elbow, from the runner in front of me, unintentionally swung back and hit me squarely in the face.  The sting was immediate and it didn’t take long to taste the blood coming from the inside of my lip.  I slowed but kept running, but not for long.  I was pretty distraught that the race unfairly started out that way for me.  So when, at about a mile in, I found myself out of the pack, away from cheering fans, and on the backside of the loop around a pond, I gave up.  I sat myself down.  Alone, with my tears and overwhelming sense of failure, I decided I just wouldn’t even go on.  Besides, being on time for my finish goal was way out of my reach now.

I don’t know how I mustered the mental strength to get back up, but somehow I did.  I got up and finished, late and tearful and with a bloody lip.  It was a failure by my goal standards but it taught me that I could press on.

I urge you too… press on dear Hopers towards the goal we have in Christ Jesus.  Keep running and take all of your “I don’t have it all together with you.”  Because of His love, you will most certainly arrive at the goal, perfect and on time.

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