Philippians 312 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Every athlete has known failure. They have tasted the bitterness of defeat. They have examined their failings on the field. They have been measured on the scales of competition and found wanting.
Average athletes allow this failure to become an identity, a reason for fear and self-doubt. Great athletes use failure as fuel. Failure won’t define them. It will challenge them to be better, to dig deeper, to train harder.
As Christians, we face a similar dilemma. The world rages around us, seeking to enslave us. The enemy buffets us at every turn. Our flesh grows uncomfortable and demanding. We see the Word and it reminds us of our failures. And our failures become our definition, our identity. Our prayers become weak, and we resist less and less. We begin to criticize those who desire more.
And so we have the same delineation as with average and great athletes. And average Christian resigns himself to mediocre living and fleshly habits. He will train when it suits him. He will risk little and impact others less. He has become what he believed he would be, and thus fulfilled his own prophecy.
But a great Christian, that rare breed of character who will read the Word and believe it, he casts all past experience behind, sets his face like flint, and determines that he will, through the grace of God, be that man described in scripture. He is not content with other people’s definition of him. He presses on toward the mark of the high calling, forgetting everything behind him.
You may have prayed for the sick in the past and not seen results. You may have cowered in the face of adversity. You may have struggled with a sin. You may have fallen a thousand other ways. Don’t let that failure define you. Look in the mirror of the Word, and let grace lift you up and carry you on. Thank God for Paul and Peter and the others whose faults aren’t hidden, but rather serve as encouragement for you and me to never give up.