Looking Ahead

By Melissa Shrock

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NIV)
Have you had those days where nothing goes right? Fresh hot coffee spills all over the counter. Angry words slip out to your disobedient children. There isn’t enough time to read God’s Word and pray this morning. You walk to the car with your slippers still on your feet. You run a red light because last night’s disagreement with your spouse is on replay in your mind. The kid in the back seat is yelling because he forgot his water bottle, and he is very thirsty!

As a child, growing up in a Christian home, I remember hearing adults talk about living a lifestyle that imitates the example of Christ. Now that I have kids of my own, I think more and more about my actions on those whirlwind days. My actions and thoughts are not always worth emulating.
 
Many times in the New Testament, Paul told people to imitate and follow him as he followed Christ. Did he not have bad days?

I have dedicated this year to spending time in and mediating on Paul’s letters. Through this journey I have come to realize being an example worth imitating is not about all the wrong things that happen–the quick angry words, the disagreements, the distracted mind. We are all human and make mistakes, even Paul.

So how did Paul have the confidence to say, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ”? It wasn't because he was perfect. Paul’s confidence was rooted in looking ahead and looking upward. Paul shares one of his strategies: forgetting what was behind and reaching forward to what was ahead. (Philippians 3:12-14) He did not sulk in his failures. He did not mull over all his mistakes while he sat in prison. He looked up toward the prize. He knew Who had a hold of him and he was secure in that. Paul lived a life that honored God in both his successes and in his failures. Although he was weak, he knew God's strength. He experienced the power of a changed and overcoming life through God’s grace and calling. Paul kept his eyes on God more than the circumstances around him.
 
Where are you today? Are you drowning in your imperfection, or are you acknowledging your weakness and humbly glorifying God for His strength and grace in your life? If you are not living a transformed life, stop and talk to the Father. Let Him change yours (as He did Paul’s) into a life worth imitating.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without
reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5 (ESV)


FAITH STEP: Evaluate your life in the light of Philippians 3:12-14. Practice looking ahead. Take steps you would have the children (or others) around you imitate. 
The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:9 (NKJV)

Melissa Shrock

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