It seems like every milestone birthday brings about a series of very complicated emotions. There is the “oh no, I am getting old and almost dead” panic. And, I remember the “oh no, now I have to be and adult” worry. I clearly did not take this to heart. But, increasingly new milestones in age come with regret. Looking back can be daunting, so can looking forward.
Philippians 3:8-15 (ESV)
8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 12 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. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.
As we travel through different periods of life, we often look back. Looking back and reflecting brings us generally to one of two conclusions. Sometimes we look back with satisfaction. We can see what we have accomplished and rest in our successes. We can look back at glaring shortcomings. From a spiritual standpoint, both of these perspectives can be problematic. To look at what we have done can prevent us from seeing what must be done. We must come to Christ solely through what He has done. Our successes can make us think that we are good enough, have done all the right rituals to be OK in our own right. Or, looking back can cause regret, anger, self-pity. We know we don’t measure up.
What is the right response? We should see our past accolades as unable to make us right before God. They are not credited to our spiritual bank account. Looking back and seeing our past as grossly inadequate should bring us to a viewpoint where we see our need. We see a need that we simply cannot fix. The fix can only come about through Christ. We must see His death on the cross as the price paid for our sin and inability to make ourselves purified. We must accept this price paid on our behalf. We must receive Him. It is through Him that we are made righteous.
But where then does this leave us? Coming to know Christ is not the end. Oh sure, it is the crucial rebirth we want in our lives and, frankly, in the lives of EVERYONE. However, we often see it as the finish line rather than the starting line. Knowing Christ is the foundation of everything we do. It is the beginning of new life.
I am 60 years old. I am approaching the finish line. I can choose to “kick” and cross the finish or I can go sit in the stands and watch others compete in the race of life. I choose to turn on the afterburners and race for the finish line until I am unable to do so.