STRETCH:  REACHING FORWARD

by Tammy Phillips
February 17, 2021

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,” (Philippians 3:13 AMP)

I ran/walked my very first 5k, the 2020 Hot Chocolate in Nashville, TN.   Honestly, I walk all the time.  When we were last in D.C., we put about 8 miles in the book. It was not a problem.  I thought the race would be easy-peasy with hot chocolate waiting at the finish line.

Kris also ran the Hot Chocolate, but the 15k race.  My only goal was to finish the 5k before he finished the 15K.  What I had not realized is that walking is really different than racing.  This was not a stroll along the streets of Nashville.

I was ok with some people passing me, but there was one group I picked out that I was not going to let pass.  As I focused forward, I sat more goals along the trek.   The race was a stretch for me.  I did not get the luxury of taking a break, nor taking pics of Nashville along the course.  It was not easy-peasy!

As I raced, I could care less about the mile that was behind me.  My goal was one more step, one more mile.  I stretched myself with each incline I climbed and every turn and burn that I made.

I, like Paul, forgot what was behind, “the past mistakes, the not-good-enough’s, the you-cannot-do-this” and reached forward to what lay ahead. I chose to do the same.

The phrase “reaching forward” is the Greek word epekteinomai.  It means to stretch forward with every effort. This is what I had to do to finish the race.  I had to push with everything in me.  I even had to run along the way.  I was so happy to see mile marker #1. It was behind me!  Mile marker #2, check, it was soon behind me.  Then I passed #3 and then the finish line!  I made it to the finish line without stopping.  I quoted the word of God and mustered all the strength I could to keep going.  My eyes were focused on the goal—finish strong and do my very best.

I believed I would finish that race or I would never have started it.  However, it was the stretch that surprised me.  It was not good enough just to finish. I was competing to reach the goal set before me and it was not easy!  I had to stretch.

I encourage you that when life challenges you, keep going.  When you are broken, keep going.   When offense comes, keep going.  When you are deeply hurt, keep going.  When your past mistakes attempt to haunt you, keep going.   When you think you cannot take one more step nor go around that same old mountain one more time, forget the past and stretch forward to the great things that lie ahead.  It will be worth it.

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