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. 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, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
– Philippians 3:12-14
How many of us are waiting for our moment to shine, waiting for our ships to come in, in order that—finally—we can realize our dreams, place our feet on the next rung? Become who we want to be? People will tell you to seize the day until they’re blue in the face, but they’ve got it wrong: it’s “seize today,” because it’s time. Now is the time. Today is the day, because it’s the day that the Lord has made—for you, for me, for all of us.
Procrastination is a worldly condition. More than that, procrastination is a worldly cliché, incorporating as it does so much of the world’s negativity into one trait. It’s got pessimism, anxiety, doubt and fear, not to mention laziness, dishonesty, and waste: the whole shebang. The Kingdom, on the other hand, retains the traits of optimism, confidence, certainty, courage, commitment, truth and efficiency. It’s the anti-procrastination. Above all, the Father’s purpose for us is current, of the here and now.
When that time arrives, it needs to be redeemed. We need to take advantage of the fact of God’s presence, now! Because time is an incredibly valuable commodity. Foolish people waste time. Good people find time. Great people make time. As far as our time in the world goes, money isn’t the currency that we will find ourselves valuing most, or needing to take the most care in spending. It’s time that’s the currency of our lives…the prophecies and promises that are declared over our lives are the medium of exchange in the Kingdom, and God’s favor is the legal tender that they generate.
In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he begins to articulate—probably for the first time in the history of the newborn Christian church—some of the articles of the knowledge of Christ that the later church would take for granted. Paul and the Philippian church had a deep personal relationship: it had been the first congregation he’d helped establish in what would later become Europe, and the Philippian church considered Paul a mentor and a friend. His epistle to them, then, is much more a personal letter of love, thanks and rejoicing than several of the others in the New Testament that bear his authorship. Because of that relationship Philippians is a warm, optimistic letter, despite his circumstances at the time—because Paul wrote the epistle from prison, one of several times he would find himself detained for spreading the Good News. The word joy, in various forms, appears no less than sixteen times throughout the short letter, and it manifests an incredibly powerful, positive vision of Christian living, with the passing away of negative influence and the encouragement that in humbling oneself and pressing on towards a dedicated spiritual goal, one could accomplish great things in the Kingdom.
The “one thing” that Paul describes in Philippians 3:12-14 is actually—and appropriately—threefold. It details how best to achieve focus, with the intention of opening us up to realizing the objectives that the Father has set out for us. Just as with Paul’s threefold thing, our acceptance and incorporation of a spiritual upgrade needs to include three stages.
First and foremost, we need to leave the past in the past, forgetting those things that are behind us. We have to move on from where we have already been—it’s simply not healthy to continue to hold onto a person that’s dead and buried, and acceptance and closure are vital to advancement. Christ’s focus for us is on a present/future axis, not a present/past axis. In this stage, focus allows us to prioritize: to recognize the distractions that hinder us from revelation and distance us from realization, and to move beyond them.
Second, we need to reach out to what God is doing, focusing forward on those things that are ahead of us. That focus creates the energy we need to pursue our objectives: spiritual focus derives from the passion of the Holy Spirit, who takes the greatest pleasure possible in glorifying Christ within us, gladly heralding the coming of the Son. The Holy Spirit is all about rejoicing. He thrives upon it, and His joy is infectious. That revelation of Christ’s nature through the joyous lens of the Spirit concentrates our strength, sharpening our resolve and shaping the power we bring to bear. It’s the difference between a flashlight and a laser.
Third, we need to seize the day we’re in, pressing towards the goal. The temptation is to consider the war won with the first fight: but we will always face two battles in everything worth doing; one to take ground and a second to hold it, one to free ourselves and a second to remain free. Many people win the first, without ever realizing that there is a second to fight. All spiritual upgrades must be established in our lifestyles after we accept them into our hearts. They need to rewrite the way we conduct ourselves, the way we use the language we speak, write and read, how we think of ourselves and others, how we express ourselves on a daily basis. There is no breakthrough without follow-through. If we don’t turn that moment of encounter with God into an ongoing experience with Him, then we have only met God: we have not been transformed by Him, and when the pressure of circumstance returns to our lives, we will easily bounce back into previous patterns of behavior.
Regardless of your circumstances, regardless of whether you think that you’re ready, regardless of what else you have going on: this is your time to be extraordinary.