After 19 games the Texas Rangers (as of today) are 15-4! Just in case you haven’t noticed that is the best record in all of the Major Leagues. Honestly, after what happened in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series*, I’m more than a little surprised.
Losing Game 6 and then the World Series was so utterly heartbreaking that I was expecting the team to need a year to put it behind them and move on. Even now, if I stumble across replayed highlights of the game I have to change the channel. The memory is still to painful, and I assumed the Rangers would suffer from some sort of Game 6 hangover. Apparently I was wrong.
Clearly they have forgotten Game 6 and moved on from that devastatingly painful night.
That’s why these Rangers are an amazing illustration of Philippians 3:13-14
13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Many of us know these verses and can even quote them, but for so many Philippians 3:13-14 is all about “straining toward” and “pressing on” which really becomes code for trying harder and working more. In the end, we are so busy straining and pressing we almost completely ignore the idea of forgetting. But we shouldn’t because that is how Paul begins the whole thought, “Forgetting what is behind…”
Somewhere in our past we all have a Game 6, a devastating mistake, a heartbreaking failure that fills us with the cold ache of regret. Our problem isn’t that we have a past, it’s that we don’t forget it. We end up shackled to the guilt, and tangled in the shame of our old lives. Too often the shadow of our past hangs over us so that our “straining toward” and “pressing on” is really just an effort to make up for when we fell short.
Paul had his own history of Game 6 meltdowns, but he knows that in Christ we aren’t defined by our past. When he penned “Forgetting what is behind…” he was reminding us that there is nothing we can add to what he has already done, nothing we can give that would equal his sacrifice. Through the cross God dealt with our sin with such ferocious finality that the only thing left for us to do is turn our back and leave it behind as we strain toward what is ahead and press on toward the goal.
But it starts when we forget what is behind.
*In case you don’t remember in Games 6 the Rangers were one strike away from winning the World Series, not once but TWICE in the same game only to lose the game and ultimately the series.