Read Philippians 3:12-14
“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (NLT)
So much in the Christian life is just hanging in there and pressing ahead in the many and varied situations that face us. Paul sees himself as on the way; he hasn’t arrived. But this doesn’t lead to stagnation or despair. He knows where he is going, and realises it will take a while to get there even with the strong help of God.
We can so easily get discouraged as we see plans fall apart, goals not achieved. We take some steps forward and then seem to take some back. Christian growth is not a smooth, exponential curve, but more like a series of jerky lines that trace progress and regress. But like Paul, we don’t let this defeat us.
The writer Eugene Peterson was once discouraged in his pastoral work, feeling he was making little progress with some people. He was reminded of a recent time when he was observing a kingfisher on a river bank. The kingfisher, very skilled at catching fish, made 26 unsuccessful attempts to catch a fish. It was only at the 27th attempt that he succeeded. That bird didn’t give up and got his fish in the end.
We keep on going. We don’t give up despite failures and setbacks. We will get there in the end. It won’t be all glamorous or dramatic, but we are on the right track and sometimes all we have to do is keep on keeping on.