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. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. Phil. 3:12-15
Gracious Jesus, it's good to be free from the "paralysis of analysis"---an unhealthy, navel-gazing preoccupation with ourselves. But it's equally good to be free to examine our lives through the lens of the gospel. I have a new exciting season in front of me, and I really don't see the theme of "ramping down" or retiring anywhere in the Scriptures. Prepare my heart for what's next in the kingdom story you're writing for your glory and my growth.
Though it's hard to say, for sure, how old Paul was when he was when he wrote these words---maybe in his sixties or seventies, nevertheless, it's obvious that with an increase in age came an increase in gospel astonishment---being overjoyed at who you are and what you've done for us. He never grew bored exploring the unsearchable riches of your grace, and he never seemed to tire of wrestling with the kingdom implications of the gospel.
Jesus, make me that kind of man. Give me this kind of maturity in the gospel. Increase my hunger and thirst for knowing, loving and serving you. I'm thankful that it's your grasp of me and not my grasp of you that defines this way of life. Hallelujah, I'm in your palm, you're not in mine!
Sometimes I lift my hands in awe and gratitude for the way you love me. Sometimes I shake my fists at heaven like a pouting, demanding child. Sometimes I wring my hands in anxious unbelief, like a hapless orphan. But I live and I will die secure in your palms and written upon your heart.
Jesus, I praise you that as with Paul, you've given me a prize to win, not a wage to earn. I never earned my way into a relationship with you, and I don't maintain a relationship with you by my efforts either.
What do I want for the rest of my days? I cannot say it any better than Paul, Lord: I want to know you, Lord Jesus, more intimately than ever. This is the one thing I want more than anything else. And I want to experience more of the power of your resurrection, for I have no power in myself to love others as you love me.
I want to enter more fully into the fellowship of sharing in your sufferings---living out the birth pangs of new-creation life in this broken world---a world which groans for its release from the bondage to decay, a release that is sure to come (Rom. 8:18-25). Our labors in you are not in vain, Jesus (Phil. 3:10-11), for they are your labors in us and through us.
These are few of the things on my heart for this next season, Jesus, and really, for the rest of my oxygen-sucking days in this world. Help me to be less distracted with lesser things and be far more preoccupied with the things which matter most to your heart. So very Amen I pray, in your most glorious and grace-filled name.