Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14
These verses from Philippians sustained me throughout my years in college. I turned to them often and displayed them on every page, poster or mirror I could find as a reminder that I hadn’t arrived, permission to forget and confirm the fact that today’s race felt more like an Iron Man event — without training!
The common theme from then and now is the strength I find in making it through that day . . . either then or right now. And as I reflect I see a startling pattern of self-inflicted, superimposed godness — not goodness — upon my ever being. My strength in victory as well as defeat has been out of the arrogance of my own heart and fervency of my own abilities and the lack of need for anything, or anyone, else. Habakkuk 1:11 says it well, “Then they sweep past like the wind and go on — guilty men, whose own strength is their god.” Never had I imagined that one of my gods was my own strength. But, looking back, far and near, I see the pattern of dependence, the island of fortitude that I built that would ultimately lead to a crashing world where few pieces were left tangible. Living with Habakkuk as your true motto, but shrouded by the mantra of Philippians succeeds in the misguided dependence on my own self to lay claim to victory.
And so, here I stand, wanting to press on, wanting to forget, wanting to strain for that prize — the temptation is to trust in my own abilities to get through it all. But my heart will always be dissatisfied until it rests in Him and Him alone. It not only is a place of refuge, but of ultimate and pure strength — unadulterated by the generic.
So it is true, in my weakness I am strong when Christ is my King and my strength is His. I can only do because He does!
My Jesus, in my weakness . . . not so much in temptation, but more so when I make my strength my god, remind me of when you took up residence in my life. Remind me then of those moments when you were undoubtedly present, when you moved through my heart and my whole body witnessed a taste of your glory as you met me there. Remind me of the victory you have and that my adequacy is found only in you (II Corinthians 3:5).
Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion. Psalm 84:5-7