“Must. Go. Faster.” That’s what Dr. Ian Malcolm, played by Jeff Goldblum, says in an iconic scene from the 1993 movie Jurassic Park as he and two other characters flee in a Jeep from a rampaging tyrannosaurus. When the driver looks in the rearview mirror, he sees the raging reptile’s jaw—right above the words: “OBJECTS IN MIRROR MAY BE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR.”
The scene is a masterful combination of intensity and grim humor. But sometimes the “monsters” from our past feel like they’ll never stop pursuing us. We look in the “mirror” of our lives and see mistakes looming right there, threatening to consume us with guilt or shame.
The apostle Paul understood the past’s potentially paralyzing power. He’d spent years trying to live perfectly apart from Christ, and even persecuted Christians (Philippians 3:1–9). Regret over his past could easily have crippled him.
But Paul found such beauty and power in his relationship with Christ that he was compelled to let go of his old life (vv. 8–9). That freed him to look forward in faith instead of backward in fear or regret: “One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal” (vv. 13–14).
Our redemption in Christ has freed us to live for Him. We don’t have to let those “objects in (our) mirror” dictate our direction as we continue forward.
How do Paul’s insights on Christ’s forgiveness of us speak into those issues in your life? If you’re struggling with a past choice, who might you talk to for help to “press on”?
In Philippians 3:13, Paul says he’s committed to doing “one thing.” Ironically, he then goes on to list three things and each one of them has significance. First, he wants to “[forget] what is behind.” This may refer to the things that constituted his past “confidence in the flesh” (vv. 4–6), derived from living out Judaism in its full force. Second, Paul wants to reach to what’s ahead. While he doesn’t explain himself, this statement would make a nice parallel to Philippians 1:21, where Paul says that to live is Christ but to die is gain. Finally, he’s committed to pressing on toward the goal for the “prize” (3:14)—an analogy to the award received by the winner in the Greek athletic games. Taken together, Paul’s ultimate goal is to accomplish all that he’s been called to in Christ.