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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rustler Article for 3.24.11

I think Paul was something of an amateur athlete. I know, there is little evidence to speak of Paul’s personal life other than his Jewish upbringing and education, but there certainly is a lot of athletic language in his letters to the churches. Maybe Paul was a runner or a swimmer; perhaps after a long day of persecuting the Church or preaching the Gospel he did some first-century Zumba to blow off steam.
In Philippians 3 Paul uses an athletic metaphor in the midst of an autobiographical section of the letter. He laments that he has not yet arrived at the goal of faith and considers the things in his past as rubbish compared to the glory of Jesus Christ to which he has been called to proclaim.
Let’s consider this by way of a modern-day athletics story. Diane Van Deren, an active, athletic woman now in her 50’s, understands more than most what it means to “forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead,” as Paul says. As a result of epilepsy, Diane has had a portion of brain removed. The consequence of the surgery is that she no longer has an awareness of time. She can be running for hours and hours and think only a few minutes have passed by. She has won many super marathon races because of this unique condition, and is in the best shape of her life.
I wonder – just how much would we really strive toward God’s calling on our lives in Christ Jesus if we were better at forgetting? If only we had the spiritual discipline to give our lives, yes, even our pasts to God and train our souls to the race that he has set us on!

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