I believe it was David Livingstone who said that, “…I will go anywhere, as long as it is forward.” Let’s go a step further, and with Biblical warrant declare, “I will only go forward and upward, not looking back.” This was Paul’s declaration in Philippians 3:13-14, “…forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the price of he high (upward) calling of God in Christ Jesus.” How is such a life to be lived? Is it possible, and how is it to be realized?
Let us return to pictures, and illustrations, to discover His ways. And let us take the example of the tree. “And he shall be like a TREE planted by the rivers of living water.” (Ps. 1:3) The tree is different from the lily. It seems that he lily was created to reveal beauty. The structure and make up of the lily is such that we see immediately that it was not made to withstand the severe pressure of opposing, surrounding circumstances (…heavy rains, wind, hail, etc.). This is not true of the tree. It is more robust in its structure, and is made to resist to a far greater extent the forces that would come against it. It was made to endure, and that, for the long-term, unlike the lily whose longevity is short. The application of this illustration is very simple, “…and HE shall be like a tree.” That same strength, and endurance, and overcoming resistance to the elements, is to be in the believer…He is to be like a tree.
Many years ago I read the biography of David Livingstone. Often, when one reads biographies of the great men and women of God, of faith, there is usually one thing that remains in the heart and mind that makes a profound impression. In the case of Livingstone, it was “steel.” There was steel in the man’s character, that same steel that was in Christ, when it was a question of going forward, doing the will of His Father, even when he was alone and opposed by the severe winds of jealousy, greed, and hatred. “Despised and rejected…,” He endured, for the joy set before Him. He was indeed like the tree, but more, a perfect tree, created to resist and to overcome all…and this He did. That same Spirit, who gave to Christ the strength to endure, was in the heart of Livingstone, who crossed Africa by foot, and was relentless in his pursuit of opening up the heart of Africa to the gospel. “Fire was in his bones,” and steel in his character.
So, let us take heed today, and lay hold on the truths that Paul declared so clearly to Timothy, who was to succeed him, “…For God hath NOT given us the spirit of fear, but of POWER, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim. 1:7) This Spirit of Christ, which lives in the heart and soul of every believer, IS indeed our power, love, and soundness of mind. He IS our endurance, and blessed capacity to overcome. He enables us, as we are trusting and believing Him, to not look back, forgetting what is behind, in order to look forward, upward, unto Jesus, and the upward call. Only forward and upward!! May the Lord Jesus give us all the grace this day to run with patient endurance this race set before us…with His joy in the present moment (…for the joy of the Lord is our strength…”), and with the joy set before us in heaven. Created to endure…and this we shall do.