“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
(Philippians 3:14 NIV)
Have you ever been frustrated with the goals you have set for yourself? Not New Year’s resolutions, which fall by the wayside Jan. 2. Rather those daily to-do lists that bog us down with task after task and bite us at the end of the day when we realize all our scurrying around has accomplished nothing on our list.
I keep lists: Urgent, More Urgent, and Most Urgent. Rarely do I get half of the goals I set done.
Then why bother to make a list at all?
Setting goals, so psychologists say, keeps us focused.
The goals we set are reasonable and measurable.
Too often we reach for the stars, when we really only need to get to the moon. We strive to exceed our given task because of pride.
I enjoy playing Microsoft Games on my computer: solitaire and mahjong are my favorites. I play the Daily Challenges to sharpen my mind and improve hand-eye coordination, and I have learned these games teach me another skill –– focus.
Each game I play has a different goal. Unfortunately, I sabotage myself through inattention or prideful maneuvering. In mahjong, my challenge might be to match 50 tiles in two minutes. But if I forget what my goal is, I keep trying to clear the board to satisfy my pride. Or my assigned goal might be to collect four golden tiles. I miss the buried treasure because I’m pecking away at the wrong tiles trying to clear the board. Sometimes I forget I’m playing FreeCell and make my moves as if I’m playing Klondike. I didn’t keep my mind on the goal.
Although playing solitaire or mahjong is no substitute for the valuable time spent in God’s word, sometimes God teaches us lessons through the mundane. As I’m exercising my addled mind, He often says, “Do you see the life lesson, here?”
“Oh. I failed because I didn’t keep my eyes on the prize.”
I took another look at the third chapter of Philippians, where Paul likens his focus to that of a runner –– keeping his eyes on the prize of his calling. He addressed those whose Christian experience was being detoured by those who put more emphasis upon ritual than substance.
Paul understood the detours of religiosity, for he describes himself a Pharisee above all Pharisees. If anyone could brag about being a devotee to ritual, Paul won the service award. But this was not his calling. God saved him from being a slave of accomplishment to being adopted into God’s family –– brotherhood with Christ. A new purpose. A new goal he kept ever before him.
In other words, he implores believers to focus less on the doing and more on the being. Our prize, our reward, our goal is to be one with God’s purposes for our lives –– ownership of our hearts.