"Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining toward what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
When the Holy Spirit regenerates our hearts by grace, He sets us on a trajectory toward increasing Christlikeness and hope in Him. Though our lives will have ups and downs, and though the focus of the Christian life is not our great performance, but Christ's performance in our place, His supernatural power in us should change us - the inner compass of our lives is forever pointed to True North from now until heaven.
Earlier this spring Bob Huggins led his West Virginia University basketball team to new heights of success for a relatively small and unknown program. After one significant win, when the team was one step from the Final Four, Huggins was asked about how he felt. Here's what he said, “I never look back. I’ve just never been that way.” Then he told a story. “When I was a kid growing up in West Virginia, one day while hitching for a ride, I got in a pickup truck in Midvale with a guy and I noticed that he didn’t have a rearview mirror. I said to the guy, ‘Hey, there’s no rearview mirror.’ He looked at me and said, ‘Boy, we ain’t goin’ backwards.’ That’s the way I’ve lived my life."
That seems to have been the apostle Paul's attitude, too. He had many choices in his past to regret; many chapters of his life he would have liked to live differently. He could have wasted mental and emotional energy brooding over his past sins and letting them cripple his present, but he did not. A future with the gospel at its center propelled him forward - onward - with little reference to the rear-view mirror of his life. He allowed his past sins to grow his humility, but that was all the power he was willing to give them. "Forgetting what lies behind and straining toward what lies ahead, I press on...." May it be so with us. Don't look back.