14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (NIV)
I remember as a high school basketball coach calling for the team to start a full-court press. It was a frenzy of energy with each player pursuing his man leaving barely enough room for them to move. This is what it is to press. To pursue something to alleviate all space between you and that thing and then when there is no more space to lean in even more. The apostle Paul here teaches us to press forward to win the prize.
What is the prize? We might think the prize is Heaven, but when we look at His words, the prize is found as we are called toward Heaven. The thought of Heaven moves us toward the prize, but Heaven is not the prize in this passage. The prize is the life God has called us to live. It is holiness. It is love. It is communion. Christ pursued holiness that He might qualify Himself as a sacrifice worthy to cover the sin of the world for the purpose of communion. This is what we press into.
In one way, this prize is ours when we first accept Christ as our Lord. But there is a continual increase in this prize. The more we pursue communion with Him and through Him, the more of the prize we see and experience. In fact, there is no limit to the greatness of this prize of communion. It is for this reason, Paul first says to forget the former things.
We must let go of the pain of the past, but also the glory of the previous. The pain and miracles of the past will be overshadowed completely by the glory that is still to come in this life and in Heaven. Ultimately, the glory of Heaven is not the streets of gold and the pearly gates, but the absence of space between us and God. But Jesus came that we might have this on Earth right now. The key, however, is the pressing.
We must pursue God diligently and consistently. So many things in this world work to increase the space between us and God. Pain, hurt, pleasure, and temptation is pushing back with great force to keep us from God. The worst thing we can do is stop pressing in. We can not settle where we are because God has more.
Prayer: Lord, help me to set aside all that would push me away from You and pursue You with a sincere heart. Amen.