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Pressing On

Posted on January 19, 2019 at 6:25 PM Comments comments (0)

PRESSING ON

I was in the ninth grade, playing left tackle on the junior high football team. I believe it was the last game of the season. My 115 pounds seemed awfully small against my giant opponent facing me on the line. My job was to move him over, to the right or to the left, depending on the particular play we would be running. Since there were no replacements available and we played on both defense and offense, by the end of the game I was dog tired! I do remember that toward the end of that last game, by a spectacular display of skill, I singlehandedly took down a runner and prevented a touchdown. We still lost, of course.

My school was about 15 miles from our small frame house in rural Claiborne County, Mississippi, and we had no car. Some friends let us hitch a ride with them as far as the Crossroads community, which was still at least two miles from our house. About ten o’clock at night, in total darkness, we started our trek down the graveled road to our house. During the game, I had developed a “Charlie horse” and could hardly walk for the pain. Two miles in total darkness and dead tired without meeting a single car! But I plodded on. I had no choice but to keep plodding on, looking forward to the warm bed that my brother and I shared.

Paul spoke of pressing on! (Philippians 3:12). For Paul, these were not empty words. He told of beatings and of being stoned almost to the point of death, of “dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren” (2 Corinthians 11:23-26). Who among us has had to endure this kind of treatment? I know that I have never had to endure such. Yes, I have been wrongly accused and lied about. Yes, we have had to survive on next to nothing a few times. Yes, life has not always been easy like it is now for us. But to really suffer? I cannot boast of anything like that.

We sing, “This world is not my home; I’m just a passing through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.” This is what God is waiting to give us someday. So, we just keep on plodding along and each step draws us closer to our eternal home.

Paul wrote to the Romans about “hope.” There is something out there in front of us that we expect to receive beyond the grave, something that is worth waiting for! To get there, we may have to wade through some swamps; we may have to endure illnesses and dread diseases that afflict the godly and the ungodly alike; and we may have to endure hardships along the way. Paul said that hardships can actually strengthen us and help to develop “proven character” which in turn will give us “hope.” And Paul said that “hope” does not disappoint! (Romans 5:3-5).

I have seen many people begin the Christian walk with a great deal of enthusiasm and zeal, only to abandon the journey when things began to get a little hard. No amount of pleading could get them back. This is, however, not a modern phenomenon; Paul observed it in some of the Galatian Christians with whom he had worked. He pleaded with them to remain faithful. “You were running well,” he wrote. “Who hindered you from obeying the truth?” (Galatians 5:7).

From time to time, as we plod along on our journey toward heaven, the temptation becomes strong to stop and rest for a while. So, we decide to “sleep in” on Sunday morning. We rationalize that we’ll go to the evening service, and we do. And step by step, little by little, the urge to assemble with the saints grows dim, until finally, there is no urge. We may also rationalize that nobody cares if we come or not, so we tell ourselves that we will not be missed. This is what happened to many Christians in Judea. They began to “neglect” the great salvation (Hebrews 2:3) and, without even noticing, they “drifted away from it” (Hebrews 2:1). They reclined in the boat for a short rest, without properly securing the “anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19), only to realize later that they had drifted far away. Using another analogy, the Hebrews writer explains that the person who stops learning eventually becomes “dull of hearing,” and needs to be taught again “the elementary principles of the oracles of God” (Hebrews 5:11-12). Like a baby who cannot digest “solid food,” he must start off again with “milk.” “Solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil” (Hebrews 5:13-14).

So, when we grow weary, and it happens to all of us at times, let’s remember that we are walking in “a new and living way” (Hebrews 10:20), expecting eventually to “enter the holy place” that God has reserved for us (Hebrews 10:19). In that “holy place” we will meet our “great high priest” who is waiting for us. We must not give in to the desire for “a little folding of the hands to rest”(Proverbs 6:10), but must “hold fast,” without wavering, to the hope which has been promised. “And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good works, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another and all the more as (we) see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:23-25).

If I walk in the pathway of duty, If I work till the close of the day,

I shall see the great King in His beauty when I’ve gone the last mile of the way.

When I’ve gone the last mile of the way, I will rest at the close of the day,

And I know there are joys that await me when I’ve gone the last mile of the way.

(Oatman/Marks)

Donald R. Taylor