So it's the first Wednesday of 2016, and the "newness" of the new year has seemingly worn off. The workouts don't feel the same. People are already tired of their coworkers again. The magic of the new year and the holidays has faded, and for many, the problems of 2015 are already haunting 2016. Those are the people I want to talk to today, and I want to tell you all...to keep pressing.
Philippians 3:14 says "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Now, the New King James Version says it in a slightly different, yet equally important way. It says "I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Why is any of this relevant? Well, I believe it's important because it reminds us that the pressure that comes in our lives is not to break us, but to push us higher, and that what you are pressing towards is just as important as the pressing itself.
So before we press towards anything, we need to know what pressing is, right? Well, I looked up the word 'press', and there were 3 (of the surprising 49) definitions that really stood out to me. First, to 'press' is to act upon with steadily applied weight or force. So when we press toward the mark, we have to consistently push towards it. You have to give your best, whatever that is, continually. Your actions have to be consistent. Next, to 'press' is to weigh heavily upon something or to subject it to pressure. Many times, when we’re going through, we feel like something is weighing down on us. It often feels like the trial is pressing down on us. Today, I want you to press back. Your trial may make you feel like you are on your back and on the ground, but feelings can easily be false. Press back on whatever is trying to weigh you down. How? Start by changing the way you speak about your own life. What you hear affects what you think, and what you think affects what you truly believe. We can’t speak negatively and be upset when positive things don’t happen. Is stress pressing on you? Press back with God’s peace. Press back with God’s word. Press back with what God has already done in your life. Press…back. Finally, to 'press' is to push forward. So, we must recognize that to press without direction is dangerous for a few reasons. If you don’t have direction or a goal, you have a reason to quit. That’s why the enemy will often try to make us feel like the trials we experience will never end and will never get better. It’s easy to quit when you don’t have an end point, or a goal, or a finish line. However, it’s also dangerous to push in the wrong direction. If I got on the freeway, and randomly decided to shift into reverse, there’s a high chance that something will go wrong. I could get in an accident, injure or kill somebody, or end up in jail. Nothing good comes from going backwards when God is trying to push you forward. You’ve been in your comfort zone long enough. It’s time to shift to the next level, and that next level is in front of you, not behind you.
The next piece of Phil. 3:14 that I want to focus on, is the “mark”, or what the NKJV calls the “goal”. Always remember that there is a goal. There’s a purpose to your pain. The process has a purpose. God didn’t allow this to happen to see how much you can handle. He already knows how much you can handle, and He knows that you can handle this. Not only can you handle this, but you can handle it with grace, and peace, and hope, and love. How? By leaning on Him. I know what it’s like to feel like you’re on the brink of breaking, and that if anything else happens, you are going to lose your mind. I’ve been there, and I came through it by depending on God every step of the way. I know what it’s like to want to quit, or to not even care about the goal because it takes too much to get to it. I know what it’s like to know all the inspirational verses…and still feel hopeless. But I also know that if you take it one day, one hour, one moment at a time, and hold on to God, He’ll keep you. I wouldn’t be here if He didn’t keep me. I wouldn’t be who I am if He didn’t keep me. It is in life’s toughest moments that we realize who we really are. You are resilient, you are strong, you have His grace, and an extra dose of peace. You win every day that you refuse to give up. There’s a goal that needs to be achieved. Focus on the goal. What is the goal of your specific storm? I honestly don’t know. However, I do know that once all of this is over (YES, it DOES have an expiration date), you’ll be better than you were when you started. The process prepares us for the promise. Press towards the goal, and one day, you’ll get it.
The final piece that I will focus on is the prize of the upward call of Christ. Anything that doesn’t call you upward can eventually pull you down. Anything that doesn’t give life can aid in your death, because you’re not growing. To stop living is to die. To stop growing is to become stagnant, which to me is just death in slow motion, because you get comfortable. Christ is constantly calling us higher. He requires more from us because He knows what He’s placed inside of us. The ultimate goal is the prize that comes with His call. Y’all remember how we chatted about the fact that Joseph was born to handle his struggle and that he was essentially called to it? (*cough* Born for This *cough* lol) Well, you’re called to handle this trial. This is your assignment, and regardless of how low you may feel today, please know that this storm is God’s way of calling you higher. He’s building your strength. You’ll need it up there….
So I said all that to simply say this: press with all you've got. Every day that you get up, make the decision that you’ve come to far to quit. Wherever you are, and whatever may be pressing on you, I speak life to your very spirit, and pray that God continue to give you the strength to handle whatever comes your way. He’s brought you this far, and I know that this is not the end of your story. You were designed for a life of victory, and nobody gets a victory without going through something to get it. True victory only follows a battle. So stand strong, soldier. If you give it all you've got, I know that God will give it all He's got. Keep pushing, keep praying, and keep pressing!
Background Music: After This - Youthful Praise
Words from the Author
At the end of the day, these posts are the thoughts that run through my mind. These are the lessons I've learned. The doors that I've walked through. The path I've chosen. This is part of what it means to be me. Hopefully, it'll help you be...you. Let's grow together, kay?
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