In-person worship services will be held as scheduled this Sunday. Please use discretion when determining whether roads are safe for your personal travel.
If you are unable to travel, consider joining worship online HERE at 7:30, 9, 11 or 5pm, on-demand at Resurrection’s YouTube channel, or on TV at KMCI 38 at 8am or 11am.
We are watching the weather and at this time the Car Show is still on as scheduled for the public, open from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm. We will keep you updated as conditions change.
4 If anyone else has reason to put their confidence in physical advantages, I have even more:
5 I was circumcised on the eighth day.
I am from the people of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin.
I am a Hebrew of the Hebrews.
With respect to observing the Law, I’m a Pharisee.
6 With respect to devotion to the faith, I harassed the church.
With respect to righteousness under the Law, I’m blameless.
7 These things were my assets, but I wrote them off as a loss for the sake of Christ. 8 But even beyond that, I consider everything a loss in comparison with the superior value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have lost everything for him, but what I lost I think of as sewer trash, so that I might gain Christ 9 and be found in him. In Christ I have a righteousness that is not my own and that does not come from the Law but rather from the faithfulness of Christ. It is the righteousness of God that is based on faith. 10 The righteousness that I have comes from knowing Christ, the power of his resurrection, and the participation in his sufferings. It includes being conformed to his death 11 so that I may perhaps reach the goal of the resurrection of the dead.
12 It’s not that I have already reached this goal or have already been perfected, but I pursue it, so that I may grab hold of it because Christ grabbed hold of me for just this purpose. 13 Brothers and sisters, I myself don’t think I’ve reached it, but I do this one thing: I forget about the things behind me and reach out for the things ahead of me. 14 The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus.
In these words, so fitting for the start of a new year, the apostle Paul testified that his overarching goal was to grow into all God called him to be. As The Message rendered these verses, he said, “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…. I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.”* He only reached that point by discarding something many of us may struggle with too: a (duly modest) sense of superiority due to race, education, religious affiliation or any other force that creates division between people. He said he’d found a righteousness “that is not my own.” And God offers that gift to each one of us.
Lord Jesus, make it more true of me this year that “the goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call” in you. Keep my eyes on the prize of the ultimate goal of life in your kingdom. Amen.
I recently finished reading The Midnight Library by Matt Haig which explores the question: What would life be like had we made different choices at key moments in our life? How might the protagonist’s life have been different if only she’d done things differently?
Without revealing too much of the story, the author skillfully explores the idea of regret and how many of us hold tightly to a few specific moments in our past that perhaps we would have rather chosen differently. Interestingly enough, the author brings to light the fact that there are a vast number of possible lives that we all could have lived. Beyond the big decisions such as what career to pursue, whether to get married or to have children, or where to live, there are an infinite number of smaller decisions we make everyday that could ultimately lead to various outcomes. And in this book, the main character gets to explore the various lives she could have lived. She gets to undo her regrets.
This type of thought work is interesting to me, which reveals that we give an inordinate amount of power to our regrets by thinking, “If only I’d done this, my life would be better…”.
I certainly agree that our lives would be different based on making different choices, but I’m not certain they would definitively be better. There is always challenge, struggle, disappointment, and suffering in life. Those we cannot escape. However, by giving our regrets so much power, we allow our past to dictate who we are and who we are yet to become. It is this idea that I feel Paul might be alluding to in verse 13, where he states that he forgets the things behind him and reaches out towards the things ahead of him. Paul’s pre-conversion past was not one to be proud of, yet he does not allow it to define what his life will be like. And we all can do the same.
There is something about the beginning of a new year that establishes a new rhythm in life and perhaps a new way of thinking. As we begin this new season, may we remember that our past cannot dictate our future, and who we were before does not control who we can now become. Each of us has an unlimited number of possible variations of what our lives could be. Our focus is better placed on where we want to go and on who we want to become rather than on who we were and what we’ve done (or haven’t) in our past.
Although we may not be able to go back and see what our lives could have been like had we made different life choices, we do have an opportunity to retain our own agency and make new decisions every single moment, to decide who we want to be, and decide how we want to live every single day.
In this new year, let’s not allow our regrets to have power over the endless potential that is our future.
* Peterson, Eugene H. The Message Numbered Edition Hardback. Navpress. Kindle Edition.
** William Barclay, The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1975, p. 67.