Have you ever heard of John Landy? Probably not, but for a few short months in 1954, he was the fastest man in the world. The Aussie broke the world record for the mile run and garnered great accolades for the achievement.
In August of the same year, Landy met Roger Bannister, the previous world record holder for the mile, in a race that was hailed as “The Race of the Century.” The world tuned in with great anticipation, with over 100 million listening by radio and millions more watching on the still-new invention of television. No doubt, it was a contest for the ages, but probably not in the way that you would expect.
Heading into the final lap of the race, Landy held the lead. But, as he pressed towards the finish line, he couldn’t help but wonder how far Bannister trailed behind him. Against his better judgement, he quickly looked over his shoulder. This one motion was just enough to slow his stride, allowing Roger Bannister to overtake him and claim the victory. Later, when John Landy spoke to a reporter from Time Magazine, he said, “I would have won the race if I hadn’t looked back.”
Several times in the New Testament, our lives are compared to a race. In Philippians 3:13-14, Paul states, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Paul pressed toward the mark (think of the mark as the finish line) for the prize of the high calling of Jesus Christ. He could only do this, by his own admission, by forgetting those things that were behind him. What were those things? Paul explains this in great detail earlier in the chapter, but I believe Hebrews 12:1 summarizes it well when the author says ” …let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” Things from our past that hold us back, and sin in particular, should be laid aside so we can run the race God has before us. Are you in bondage to sin or to painful experiences in your past? Christ invites us to lay those aside and look ahead to Him.
It’s important to note that when Paul says in Philippians 3:14 that we have a high calling, the word “high” in the Greek gives the connotation that the calling is so high, it’s heavenly. We can only obtain this high calling of Jesus Christ by first making him our savior and asking him to forgive us of those sins that so easily beset us. So, friend, don’t look back. Press on!