‘Nailing’ the past and taking hold of ‘now’
It was the Senior South African Track and Field Championships in Stellenbosch in the middle of April. Top athletes from across the country, in one stadium, not just competing to become the 2016 South African Champion, but in many cases also aiming to qualify in their individual events for the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio.
Now, qualifying is not an easy task. After all the planning and hard work preparing it basically comes down to near-to-perfect execution on the day in order to achieve a qualifying standard. That level of excelence requires staying focused on the goal, doing what needs to be done ‘now’ in “this specific moment”.
This reminds me of a 400 metre race ran over the weekend. Nearing the end of the race an athlete overtook his competitors down the finishing 100m straight. At this point he was still on par for running a qualifying time. As he sprinted down the straight he started looking left, looking right, checking if another competitor was closing in or trying to pass him. His focus was not on the goal and on doing what needed to be done in the moment to achieve it, but rather was focused on what, or who, was behind. And so, it was these ‘glancing sideways’ or ‘glancing back’ moments that cost him his qualifying time. He had everything in the bag. All he had to do was to focus in the moment on pushing forward. He would have been SA Champ and an Olympic contender, but instead he glanced back and crossed the finishing line just short of the Olympic qualifying time.
In life it is sometimes just that one moment of not focusing on the now and ‘looking back’ that causes us to miss out on something bigger sitting just there in front of us.
What is the Bible’s view on ‘looking back’?
Phillippians 3:13: “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 forward toward what is ahead,…”
2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold the new has come.”
Luke 9:62: “Jesus said to him: ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’”
Ephesians 4:22: “To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,”
By reading these scriptures we can see that we should live for the now: Love people in the now moment rather than saying I will love people with the love of God when I go on my church outreach, when I feel better, when things are settled down, when my finances looks better or on my own terms.
Go for Glorifying God in the ‘now’ moment and do the best that you can do with the opportunities God put in your hands ‘now’ rather than thinking of the past all the time. A lot of God’s visions and dreams for people’s lives get ruined because the people constantly look back at their past mistakes and misdeeds.
In one of the ministries I have partnered with since 2004, Athletes In Action, we do a camp with high performance athletes. The camp is called ‘The Ultimate Training Camp’. One of the principles that we teach these athletes during the camp is the ‘nail-it’ principle. Jesus died on the cross for us. So if we do wrong or if we make a mistake we can bring it to the cross – and ‘nail it’ to the cross. From there we can go forward and forget the mistakes, fears or whatever of the past and keep competing in the freedom to glorify the Lord in the ‘now’.
So, if we keep looking back like that athlete at the SA athletics championships, it means we don’t understand the grace and freedom that is provided for us to live our lives through the salvation of Jesus Himself. Let’s ‘nail’ our fears, sins, disappointments, regrets, disgraces and things of the past to the cross and live the ‘now’ moments with freedom; then we will see the Glory of God in the future.
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