About a couple of weeks ago when I was parked in the main parking lot of our Columbia Campus, I noticed some trees that were leaning to the side. Don’t be alarmed! They weren’t leaning because they were about to fall over! It was that type of lean that looked as if they were strategically growing this way. The trees were leaning toward the sunlight. Now I remember learning about this when I was a kid, but for some reason this time it really captured my attention. So, right in the parking lot of the church, I began to study why trees stretched toward the sun. In my studying, I came across an interesting truth that “if a tree faces competition for sunlight, it will begin to lean away from its competitors, and towards a clearer view of the sun.” In other words, it’s moving away from the things that are blocking its source of energy and nourishment. 

Can you identify some “competitors” in your life that block your view of the Son and the purpose God has for you? I’m sure you can! But what if I told you that your focus on the competitors could be counterproductive? What if I told you that you wouldn’t have to worry about the competitors if you just kept your focus on what really matters? Pressing toward your Creator will automatically pull you away from other competitors. 

We see Paul talking about this in the third chapter of Philippians. In the beginning of the chapter, he talks about his past – how he grew up, his education, his accomplishments, his failures, etc. Even in the midst of all of that, in comparison to knowing Christ, he considers it all “garbage.” This is how he puts it: 

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭3‬:‭13‬-‭14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

In this scripture, the word “forget” doesn’t mean to magically wipe something out of your memory. It means to no longer be influenced or affected by something. It means not letting the past be a competitor, or breaking the power of the past by living for the future. The term “I press” means to follow after or to lean toward. 

As we remember the image of the trees outside of our church, leaning away from the competitors toward the sun, let’s consider how we can press toward the goal by moving away from distractions and leaning toward the Son.

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