Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more!
5 I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. 6 I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault.
7 I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. 8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ 9 and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ.[c] For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!
Pressing toward the Goal
12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it,[d] but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
Pressing onwards can feel hard can’t it. there is a sense in the very phrase that this is no easy stroll in the park but that it involves effort and perseverance. Six months have passed since the original lockdown in March, and there seems to be no end in sight to the coronavirus crisis. It feels like hard work just going about daily life. Whilst physical and emotional endurance like this was part of St Paul’s struggle, his main concern is about pressing on in faith. He lists all of his religious credentials before saying these are not enough. Its the attitude of our hearts that matters. How we run our race and how we help ourselves to endure are really important.
I wonder what things help you in your faith journey. They might be traditional things such as worship like this or following daily bible readings or prayers, but they could just as easily be more creative things, perhaps art or poetry or reading or walking. The important thing is not so much what we do but ensuring that we do the things that sustain us and help us to endure in our faith journey. Perhaps you might like to share in the comments some of those things that help you. Remember we are all different and different things will sustain different people – just as some people will find a cathedral choir uplifting, while others will prefer a worship band, neither is better, each help nourish faith.
Maybe take some time out this week to work out what it is that nourishes your faith and see if you can find some time to do it, or maybe try something new and see if it helps you experience worship in a new way. Whatever it is I pray God’s blessings on the journey for you.
Adapted from the prayer of the Pilgrim of St James.
O God, who brought your servant Abraham out of the land of the Chaldean’s, protecting him in his wanderings, who guided the Hebrew people across the desert, we ask that you watch over us, your servants, as we walk in the love of your name. Be for us our companion on the walk, Our guide at the crossroads, Our breath in our weariness, Our protection in danger, Our refuge along the way, Our shade in the heat, Our light in the darkness, Our consolation in our discouragements, And our strength in our intentions. So that with your guidance we may arrive safe and sound at the end of the Road and enriched with grace and virtue and filled with joy. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.