Don't Look Back
Updated: Apr 6
"Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God's heavenly call in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13,14
It was my ninth grade year of school; my very first year of high school. I had decided to join the track team. Never before had I been interested in running or anything to do with being an athlete, but I realized the importance of focusing on something bigger than myself and making the most of my high school years.
I found myself on the track team and searched for a couple of girls I could look up to and learn from; I watched and waited for where I would fit. I was determined to find my place. As our practice season got into full swing and I had tried almost every event that track offered except for cross country, I decided that is where I wanted to belong. I liked the thought of mindfully and diligently putting one foot in front of the other, methodically making my way across the path that would take me to the finish line.
Now my coach had other plans for my position on this squad. Coach White had me practice the 200 and 400 meter sprint relays (why she saw speed in me I'll never know). She obviously saw a faster pace in my body than I did. I have to say I did not agree with her on either of those endeavors and persisted on telling her that I would love to try the long distance running. I really thought I could be good at it...she wouldn't even allow me access to the trail the other distance runners would take (I was to stay with the Speedy Gonzales' of the tribe).
I was placed as an alternate for the third leg on the relay team, meaning if number three got hurt or was unable to be at a meet I would stand in (I prayed hard that she was always present and healthy). Wouldn't you know she missed one of our very first meets (I think she hated me).
All I had to do is receive the baton and run like the wind to my teammate anxiously waiting so that she could take it across the finish line. My task was simple; receive the baton from my teammate, run my leg of the race as fast as possible, then make another clean, precise baton exchange (easy, right?). You were not to look back, taking your eyes off your course; stay focused and trust your teammate to place the piece of painted wood into your palm.
As that stick was positioned into my hand I took off at breakneck speed, hurling through time and space. No sooner had I taken a few good steps my opponents were gaining on me. As I rounded the track I was even with the rest and then as we made the curve and started down the straight my opponents took off as if they had fire blazing in their nikes. I didn't have a chance. Those girls were seasoned athletes; bigger and stronger and faster (who was I but a skinny ninth grader trying to find her place in this sport). They left me behind in two seconds flat. I held to that baton like my life depended on it, realizing rather quickly that there was no way I was going to catch those girls. (Needless to say my freshmen year was my first and last year for the Track and Field of dreams.)
We must stay focused on what is ahead (our heavenly call in Christ, vs.14), reaching forward and forgetting about what is behind. Letting go of past regrets. Striving for the goal of finishing strong. Being courageous and leaning in when times get tough, knowing that your spiritual legs can take you further than you thought possible because you have conditioned yourself for the race of life through prayer and learning His Word.
We cannot undo the past, but we can stand firm today as we look forward to our future. With time and diligence and practice in reading and knowing the Word and allowing the Holy Spirit to help us, we will pursue the prize. So let's get ready and run our relay while keeping the goal (heaven) as the ultimate prize,
I love you & He loves you more!
Lord, You promise us a future with You through Jesus Christ. Help us to make every effort to live and look forward as we pursue the goal of this prize. There is no need in looking back when what is ahead is of most importance. I anticipate that day and pray I finish strong in Jesus' name. Amen.