Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, 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. – Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV)
My two year old is becoming more independent every day. “My turn!” “Mine!” “No Daddy!” She has a great desire to do things on her own, but more than that, she wants to do what she sees me or Mommy doing. This has caused her numerous experiences of frustration and disappointment as she doesn’t have all she needs to do what I or Mommy can do. To her credit, she does not give up, and just like other two year olds, she gets better with time and repetition.
My ten year old is a perfectionist. She expects to get things right and can get to the point of tears over poor grades or simple mistakes. She has improved in this area and is more forgiving of herself, but it will continue to be an area of growth. She is learning there is a difference between doing her best and doing THE best. One is what she can do and the other is what she working toward being able to do.
Paul, with all of his experience, education and heritage, realized he was not quite like Jesus yet. He also realized that there were steps beyond salvation to get us to holiness. If being saved was the sum total of Christian experience, why would Paul tell us to press on toward something more? While salvation gets us out of hell, pressing on gets us closer to heaven.
The challenge for us is to not get frustrated when holiness eludes us. We must press on. In the same way that I encourage my girls to try it again, overcoming frustration and difficulty, so God encourages us through Paul to just keep trying. It is too easy to be like my two year old and want to do everything on my own. It is too easy to expect perfection like my ten year old, and live with frustration and failure. But God just wants His children to grow and mature in His time and His way; to learn patience and grace for the journey.
We may not be quite like Jesus, but we keep pressing on because that is the only way to get there and God is willing to wait.