Pressing Upward and Onward

i press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of god in christ jesus

Pressing Upward and Onward

Even though our son David ascended the 60-foot rock tower in minutes, the climb was somewhat more challenging than he remembered. This was the first hint that his surprise wedding proposal scheduled for Thanksgiving morning (2014) might not go as planned.

He anchored himself securely to the top of the rock located in scenic Garden of the Gods, a popular tourist attraction and rock-climbing destination here in Colorado Springs. He’d arranged for his sister Kayla, an experienced photographer and avid climber, to come up next so she could be strategically positioned to capture the romantic moment.

Forty minutes and a few screams later, Kayla reached the summit and shakily crawled across the narrow, sloping area to her designated perch where she prepared her camera for Danielle’s arrival. Lowering the safety rope to his soon-to-be-fiancé, David was a bit anxious about the fact that this harder-than-expected endeavor would be Danielle’s first ever outdoor climb.

Adding to her difficulty was the fact that David couldn’t see climbers below him and therefore was unable to coach her by offering tips on hand and foot placements. “Well … too late for a change of venue …”

Thankfully, a former “Garden” climbing guide on a pre-Thanksgiving dinner walk with his wife, just “happened” to be watching Danielle’s struggles. After being informed by another climber of the upcoming proposal, they fully engaged … becoming both cheerleaders and coaches.

As Danielle neared the top and David overheard her fighting back tears, he wondered about the wisdom of his plan! Determined to reach the top, Danielle refused David’s offers to lower her to the ground.

Finally, with a tear-streaked face and a few bleeding fingers, a relieved Danielle attached her security leash to the anchor on top of the tower, trying to compose herself as David suddenly dropped to one knee, produced the ring, and in a beautiful speech which included, ironically enough, a promise to always keep her safe, asked if she would do him the honor of becoming his wife! Through fresh tears, although this time for an entirely different reason, Danielle accepted David’s proposal, allowing him to place the ring on her hand. This memorable moment was celebrated enthusiastically by all, including the cheering section below.

Having prayed for the spouses of our children since before they were born, my husband Lee and I are overjoyed and thank God for the sweet gift of Danielle and the beautiful ways God has woven their stories together.

But there’s one part of this story that God has impressed repeatedly on my heart. Danielle, although struggling, refused to give up. She wasn’t defeated by her repeated failures to advance up the wall. She didn’t disqualify herself even though she had no history of success. She fixed her eyes on the goal, pushing onward and upward, capturing the essence of this powerful verse in Philippians:

But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)

Recently, as never before, I’ve been reminded how many of us are desperate for the truth that our future blessings are not limited by our past failures. Maybe, just like the people Lee and I talked with this weekend at church, we all need to be reminded that in relationship with Jesus, God’s Word says He holds nothing against us … Our sins have been removed “as far as the east is from the west.” (Psalm 103:12)

It’s not about what we’ve done, but what’s been done for us … an eternal work, accomplished on a Roman cross 2,000 years ago, wipes our slate clean, and opens for all eternity a glorious future that has everything to do with Jesus and the gift of His grace.

What a difference it makes when we understand that God is our biggest fan, constantly cheering us on and calling us forward to embrace all the extravagance of the spiritual blessings He has given us in Christ. Let’s preach this gospel to our hearts daily so that we may embrace more deeply the life-giving truth that we are fully known, completely forgiven, and truly delighted in.

May we refuse the lie that our past failures, even the ones that occurred today, disqualify us from the abundance of life God has for us and may we press onward and upward for the goal of Christ Jesus.