Mark-Lyndon Jones

Run the race ahead of you!

At the start of a new decade you should adopt a determined and single-minded attitude, urges Mark-Lyndon Jones.

At the time of writing, as I looked ahead to 2020, I found myself reflecting on a great athletic achievement and the words of a great apostle.

Eliud Kipchoge became the first athlete to run a marathon in under two hours, beating the mark by 20 seconds. The Kenyan, 34, covered the 26.2 miles (42.2km) in one hour, 59 minutes and 40 seconds in the Ineos 1:59 Challenge in Vienna, Austria.

His achievement will not be recognised as an official world record because it was not in open competition and he used a team of rotating pacemakers. However, Kipchoge, who had been unrelentingly focused on this goal for some time, said afterwards, “This shows no one is limited. Now I’ve done it, I am expecting more people to do it after me.”

The Apostle Paul was likewise single-minded in his pursuit of God’s goals and calling on his life when he declared whilst under house arrest, “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,” (Phil 3:13-14).

Like Kipchoge, Paul was determined and single-minded in his active service for the Lord and his inter-continental mission to spread the gospel. Using the analogy of an athlete, he declared, “But one thing I do…”

At the start of a new year and decade in 2020, how can we focus on the ‘one thing’ that God has called us to as men?

In order to advance into his future Paul had to ‘forget what was behind’ – and we have to decide not to allow the limitation of the past to determine our future. Paul was declaring that his past was done and settled by the grace of God – and so is yours and mine.

Like Paul, do not allow past hurts and disappointments – whether you were the victor or the victim – to determine your current mindset; you cannot be settled now or in your preferred future without leaving the past behind.

Paul encourages us with a dramatic portrayal of a runner, much like Eliud who did not look back over his shoulder but strained every fibre towards the goal. Paul is reflecting on what is behind him as a believer and can see that he has not fully apprehended all that Christ has for him.

The phrase ‘straining towards what is ahead’ means ‘to move rapidly and decisively toward the objective’.

Paul does not allow his imperfect past to discourage him from pursuing his goals and objective of growth in Christ. Rather than giving up and pursuing distracting issues, he pressed on towards the goal.

The Bible consistently speaks of developing a progressive faith which stretches beyond the past and the present, reaching out to seize every opportunity to grow in our faith and destiny in Christ Jesus. Paul realised that he was involved in a winning partnership with Christ on his side and we’re carrying the baton of that same gospel.

And so I encourage all of you as men of God to ‘press on towards the goal’ in 2020 and the decade ahead as we advance in Christ Jesus and in life with spiritual zeal and focus to all that God has called us to. In him, the best is yet to come!

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