“Pressing On”

Philippians 3:4-14

The Fifth Sunday in Lent

“I have not yet reached the goal, but I keep pressing on, toward the prize, to make it mine.”  With those words, today’s epistle lesson captures our never-ending longing for a deeper life with God; what Evelyn Underhill once called, “Reaching for what we do not have by the faithful practice of what we do have,” what Paul calls, “Pressing on toward the prize.”

We don’t press on toward the goal of a deeper life with God because we are hoping to gain a reward or avoid a punishment, or because we’re trying to work our way into heaven or out of hell.  Rather, we keep pressing on to a deeper life with God because we don’t want to under-live the one and only life we are ever going to have.

Someday is going to be the last day for all of us, and, as far as we know, we are not going to get to come back around, do this over and get it right next time.  Which is why we want to live whatever is left of our lives as deeply, fully and faithfully, as possible.  Which is why we keep pressing on to the goal of a more mindful, gentle, thoughtful, prayerful life of kindness and courage; a Spirit-filled, cross-formed life which is simultaneously vertical with love for God and horizontal with love for others, the kind of life which is guided by a clear moral compass of integrity, and stretched by a wide wingspan of welcome; a life which we, like Paul in today’s epistle lesson, may not yet have, but, toward which, like Paul, we keep pressing on; reaching for the deeper life with God we do not yet have, by the faithful practice of the passionate longing for it which we do have.