Summary: As we look back over the passed year and our failures, we can do better in the current one by Pressing On!
Some years ago, Isaac Stern, the famous violinist, was performing at Lincoln Center in New York. He was playing Mozart’s “Violin Concerto No 3 in G.” Zubin Mehta was directing the New York Symphony. Everything was going beautifully, until suddenly Isaac Stern, this musical genius, forgot the score. Right in the middle of it, he had a memory lapse, and forgot. He stopped, he got up from his chair and apologized to the conductor, apologized to his colleagues, and then went to the microphone and said, “I’ve had a memory lapse, I’ve forgotten my place. I owe it to Mozart to have the integrity to start again. Moreover, I owe it to all of my colleagues to start again, and I owe it to all of you who came here to hear great music to start again. I am sorry. I made a mistake. Will you allow me to start again?” Well, Lincoln Center burst out into thunderous applause. With that Isaac Stern returned to his chair. He glanced at the conductor and played it with awesome precision and beauty, that second time.
You have heard it said, “If I could do it over again, I would….” Then an explanation of what they would do differently. If we were honest with ourselves, we also would claim to have done things differently if we had the chance. Some may say:
I would spend more time at home and less time at work.
I would take more vacations.
I would read to my children more.
I would listen to my spouse more.
If I could do it over again, I would…
Well, we do have that chance. 2007 (2004) gives us that opportunity to do things differently than we did last year. We will have 365 days in the new year to do it differently. Of all the things that we could do differently this year, the one that should be at the top of our list is our relationship with God. Our relationship with God can grow more this year than last. When we look to improve our relationship with God, we can look to the advice that Paul gives from his own life. In Philippians, Paul shares how he approached life. He lived his life knowing that life was short and that he should make the best of his the years given him.
Read Philippians 3: 13-14.
To press on in 2007 (2004), I will …
1. Forget past failures v13
Paul knowing that he has not reached the goal before him, complete maturity in Christ, he says that he forgets what is in the past. He forgets those times that he has not reached the goal. He does not dwell on the failures but looks forward.
We are to forget about our past failures. There is no way to undo what has been done. The chapter is closed. Time keeps moving on. God is more interested in our future than He is our past. We are to forget the failures of last year and press on.
God says in Isaiah:
Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. (Isaiah 43:18 NKJV)
The Lord says, `Forget about what has happened before. Do not think about the past. (Isaiah 43:18 NCV)
To do that we are to--
Admit that we have failed.
Cf. Proverbs 28:13
He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.
• The idea of covering is to hide or ignore
Learn for the failure.
Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
To learn we must ask—
• Why did I fail?
• What can I do differently to succeed?
If we dwell on the past, we ignore the future.
In Disney/Pixar’s recent movie CARS, the tow truck named Mater (Made-er) had a unique gift. He could drive backwards and never hit anything. His secret he says is that he looks where he has been so he knows where he is going.
Unfortunately, that does not work to well in life. We can learn from the past, but to dwell on the past is to ignore the future.
2. Set my eyes on the prize v13
Paul knows that he has failed and adds that he looks forward to those things that are ahead, that are in the future. He does not let the past serve as an anchor to keep him from moving forward in his relationship with God. He sets before himself that prize that he strives to obtain, a mature relationship with God. As we learn from the past, we are to set our eyes on the future and the prize we want.