Verse of the Day

"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

~Philippians 3:14

Today's Devotional Thought

May 07, 2013 by Rachel Piferi


Press On

"When I view the start of my professional life from the end point, I see that I was just a linear force, on a straight, determined march forward. I had no sense yet of the cycle of things and no deep or ingenious thoughts. All I had was my own impulse to emerge into the professional world, to get going."

I simply could not put the book down. Loaned to me by a friend and fellow fan of University of Tennessee sports, I found myself mesmerized as I read the life of Coach Pat Summitt unfold on the pages in front of me. These words were just a few that captured the determined heart of this woman and coach.

Pat Summitt is best known for being a legendary Tennessee basketball coach with eight national championships and the most wins of any college basketball coach (men and women). Visit a basketball game in Knoxville and you will see her name on the court, a street that bears her name, and evidence of her success all over town. She is revered and heralded as an amazing basketball coach that spanned 5 different decades in Knoxville and an all around determined woman.

A woman who is now in the fight of her life battling early onset Alzheimer's disease.

She talks candidly about the disease in the book. And with the same determination that she conquered the world of basketball, she is taking on this disease.

The book begins with the following exchange between Pat and another individual. An exchange that took place just three months before her diagnosis with this debilitating disease:

I know there's something else I'm supposed to be doing. There's something God wants me to do.

Like what?
I'm not sure.

You don't think winning eight national championships and raising a son is enough? You think there's something more you're supposed to be doing?
I know there's something else. I feel it.

Tears. Laughter. Inspiration. I have experienced it all reading about her life in her words.

And, as I read the words she has shared, I thought, what if we all applied that same determination to our walks with the Lord?

What if we all just traveled through life on a straight, determined march forward. Even with no sense yet of the cycle of things and no deep or ingenious thoughts. Just our own impulses to emerge into the world where Jesus wants us. To get going!

In Bible study this week, we are talking about Simon Peter. And as I read about Pat's young and determined spirit, I couldn't help but think of him. I have spent the week reading about his life and studying the words he has penned in his two letters in the New Testament.

For many, he seems to be one of our favorite disciples. And I think he is our favorite because he is so beautifully human. We've all had our moments where we speak too soon, claim things we aren't capable of delivering, and fail miserably in the heat of the moment.

I am afraid we love Peter because he makes us feel okay in our humanness.

But you know what?

We aren't meant to look to Peter to feel okay about our own humanness. We are meant to look to Peter the way Christ looked at Peter.

I believe that when Jesus called Peter to follow him, he saw what he could mold Peter into. He saw his determination. He saw his potential. He saw his heart.

Much like a basketball coach can teach you the rules of the game, when to act and when to wait, and how to play properly, I believe that Jesus saw a faithful heart that could be taught how to properly play the game of life as a disciple. And like a young basketball player, there were going to be a lot of mistakes.

But that was okay because Jesus saw what he could be and would be because he saw his earnest heart. And like many coaches say, "You can't teach heart."

As I have studied the life of Peter this week and read about the life of a legendary basketball coach, I have become so inspired to live my life with such determination and devotion. And as Pat has written, on a straight, determined march forward.

All the way to glory.

Pat admits that she made a lot of mistakes early in her coaching career. She even writes that she wished she knew more in the early days. I bet Peter said the same thing. And, I can say the same thing. When I first committed to follow Jesus with my whole being, I made a lot of mistakes. I made some promises to the Lord that, as it turns out, I couldn't fully deliver then. I wasn't mature enough. But, I kept walking forward and sure enough, he taught me what it meant to really follow him. And on a road paved with endless grace, he continues to teach me. And I keep marching forward, with determination to learn and grow and be the best that I can be for Jesus Christ.

Oh sweet friends, your journey is paved with endless grace and God wants each of us to keep pressing on with determination to move past mistakes and missteps. Even when we have no deep or ingenious thoughts of where this is all going. Even when we make mistakes. Even when we feel like we don't know how, he asks us to press on in the power of His Holy Spirit. And step by step, we'll get more steady out of the boat and walking towards him.

Today, I beg you to press on. Press on with determination to fight the good fight, a fight that, in the end, is actually already won. We know how this game ends and we win. Press on with the determination of young basketball coach who did whatever it took to be all that God had for her. Press on with the heart of a young disciple who learned how to be bold messenger of the Gospel.

Press on sweet friends. Press on.

Memorize this verse today:

"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
~Philippians 3:14

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