Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, 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 3:12-14. (NIV)
Yogi Berra once said, “We’re lost, but we’re making good time.”
In my book, The Perils and Parables of Pastor Preechet, the pastor’s daughter Carlene’s favorite question is, “Are we there yet?”
For all who have children, that question is a familiar refrain, but the more you stop to think about it, it’s a great question with no easy answers. All too often, “We’re lost, but we’re making good time.”
I once asked a longtime friend of mine what he had been up to. When I say, “longtime,” this guy was over seventy years old. He said, “I’ll figure it out when I grow up.” He was one of those people who was almost successful, but always striving for something that was out of reach and he seemed unable to grasp it. He was an almost successful failure.
As I was leaving an elevator at a regional convention, a well-known retired minister from a prestigious church in southern California stopped me to ask if I might be interested in coming to his church to be the pastor.
He named off previous pastors who were nationally known. He said of each, “He arrived. Our pulpit committee decided we wanted someone who hasn’t arrived yet, and your name came to the top of our list.”
I was secure where I was, and had no inclination to move, but it started me thinking. If these three names he mentioned had arrived, why were they no longer there?
If ever a man had arrived, you’d think it would be the Apostle Paul. This man had the highest education of his day, having studied under the renowned professor, Gamaliel, who taught in the most prestigious school in the world.
Paul was a man with a singular mission—to rid the earth of what he viewed as the greatest danger to humans: the followers of Jesus.
But a strange thing happened to him on the way notoriety. He was confronted by Jesus himself, stricken with temporary blindness and transformed from the inside out.
Now, many years later after a life of service to the one he once hated, he confessed to his friends in the city of Philippi, that he wasn’t “there” yet. He was continuing to press on towards his goal. And here’s the key:
He was clearly focused. He put his past in his rearview mirror and kept on moving towards the prize that was awaiting him.
And the prize? A new home, a new body, and a new life.
By following Jesus, the one he had formerly fought against, the arrival would come beyond this world as Christ himself ushered him into his eternal home in heaven. Instead of being lost, but making good time, he was found and well on his way to his final destination.
Are we there yet? The answer is clear. No. But if we are following Jesus, if we know him personally, we are well on the way.