I have a goal

The Singular Goal

…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Heb 12:1-2, NASB

Goals. Everyone has them—usually. And that’s a good thing. Sometimes they’re specific in the target that they’re aiming for. I want to be in the 2016 Olympics. I want to be president of the United States. I want to be a business owner. Sometimes they’re general. I want to be happy. I want to be settled. I want to travel.

The saying goes that if you aim at nothing, you’re sure to hit it. True. Sometimes, though, even if you’re aiming at something, you still miss. Especially if you’re not focused on the real target. You’ve got to be specific.

My daughter is a runner, as you may know from my earlier posts. She sets goals specific to running, and she’s zeroed in on that target. Focused. It’s not an ambiguous I want to do my best today. Her running energy is set on a number. Not a place in a race, but on a time. That goal only shifts when she’s accomplished that meter. She is specific, consistent and focused on that goal.

As a Christian woman I think maybe my goals are a bit too broad. I want to be a godly woman. There are a whole lot of rings in that big target there. Wife, mother, friend, Sunday school teacher, youth worker, writer… lot’s of areas on which I could aim my energy. And I do. It gets… overwhelming sometimes.

Maybe that would be like if my daughter had a list of competitors that she wanted to outrun. I want to beat Sally, Jessie, Sam, Kris, and Erin. What if she outruns two of the five? Has she met her goal—did she hit the target? Tough to say.

There’s a reason her goal is specific. She needs a singular aim. Other accomplishments may result from her efforts, like (bragging mother alert!) she placed seventh (out of a whole lot of other cross country runners) in her race today, but her attention is focused on only one goal.

I think this is an intriguing parallel to my Christian walk. I have a goal, and while that goal may encompass a whole host of other ‘growth marks’, the goal is specific and it is singular.

My goal is Jesus.

I have a goal

My Goal: To Please God Alone

Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.  So when you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people.  I assure you: They’ve got their reward!  But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, co that your giving may be in secret.  And our Father who sees in secret will reward you.  Matthew 6:1—4

I am an extrovert. I just love people, love being around them, love relating to them, knowing them, being known by them.  I start to wither when I don’t have friends to talk things out with and live life along side. However, if I’m not careful, I slip quite easily into “people pleasing.”  My goal becomes making those around me like me.

That’s not God’s goal for me. At all.  He calls me to a completely different goal: to work quietly, unnoticed for an Audience of One.

As I contemplate this, I realize that so often, our church services and ladies’ brunches are at least in part about entertainment. We applaud people.  A lot.  But God is far more pleased when the featured speaker or amazing soloist gets on her knees in a slum and loves on a dirty child, where no one sees and no one claps for her.

I need to shift my goals from achieving the approval of those around me to simply pleasing God. Instead of wondering if I’m doing “enough” to please those who may be watching, I need to ask myself a far simpler question:  Am I pleasing God?  I don’t have to wonder about his opinions.  He’s written them down for me clearly.  In most situations, I can quickly answer “yes” or “no” to that question.

But if my goal is pleasing people, the answers are rather muddy. Will this please that group?  Well, I don’t know.  Maybe.  The older people in the church would want me to do it this way, the younger people would prefer I do it that way.  I can’t please them both.  What does that particular woman think about me?  I’d hate to ask her, because that would seem like I was fishing for compliments, but … wow … she’s an enigma. What does she think?

All those question marks disappear when my audience is God alone. He’s told me what He thinks.  He doesn’t hide his opinions or make arbitrary judgments of me.

My goal: to please and Audience of One.

I have a goal, Uncategorized

To Know Him

More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ — the righteousness from God based on faith. – Philippians 3:8-9 HCSB

“Coronation is only a week away, Alexandria.” Queen Helena tugged on her daughter’s hand. “Please, don’t throw your title—your life away.”

Alexandria Helena of Aragon pulled her hand from her mother’s grasp. “Title is nothing. He is what I want.”

“Nothing?” Helena stood and braced herself with a hand on a column embellishing the stone balcony. “You, my daughter, could sit as queen. You would have my place. My fame and prestige. You would continue our legacy in the Great Empire. This is all nothing to you?”

Alexandria stood parallel to the queen, passion animating her voice. “Love, mother. Do you not know the power of love? My birthright, all of the power that is endowed with our position, they are nothing compared to him. I consider it all nonsense when I compare it to knowing him. Every day, in every circumstance, I want to know him.”

With scrunched brows, Helena stared at her daughter. “Why?”

The hard determination on Alexandria’s face smoothed, softened. Her focused drifted to the distance and her eyes began to dance. “Because with him, there is life.” Her smile bloomed full. “With the brush of his hand, my heart lifted from slumber. I didn’t even know I was asleep. This life I live here—it is empty. With him I am full.”

“Love is wonderful.” Helena used an index finger to bring her daughter’s eyes back to her own. “But let us weigh the balance. Think reasonably.” She held her hands out, palms up, as if they were scales. “Would it really be worth it, Alex? Consider all you must give up.”

“Everything.” Alexandria clasped both of her mother’s hands and brought them together. “I surrender all of it, Mother. To know him.”

I have a goal

Hello, My Name is Child of the One True King

Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what it ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

I was driving through the hot Texas summer, lost in my own thoughts, the music on the radio just background noise to the turmoil in my head.

“Hello, my name is regret. I’m pretty sure we have met. …”  The words shot out of my dashboard and pierced my heart.   Suddenly, the radio had my full attention. Yes, I’ve met you, Regret.  Indeed.

“Hello, my name is defeat. I know you’ll recognize me.”  Defeat, I do recognize you.  Quite well.  Who was this guy singing my song?  I found out later it was Matthew West, an artist I had never heard of.  And he had more to say:

“These are the voices. These are the lies. And I have believed them, for the very last time.

“Hello, my name is child of the one true King. I’ve been saved, I’ve been changed, and I have been set free. Amazing Grace is the song I sing. Hello, my name is child of the one true King.”

My little errand run became a worship session. Because of Jesus’ amazing grace, everything in the past had no bearing on my identity: Child of the One True King.  And it is that truth that frees me to focus on the goal of the prize promised by Gods heavenly call in Christ Jesus.

Did you get that? Our goal is a promised prize.  We are winners.  God promised it.  So I can forget my regrets and my defeat and run toward that goal, knowing that my success is promised.

My past will not trip me up in this race. It’s a long race. A hard one.  It makes my legs burn and sweat poor down my back.  But I will not give up.  My eyes are on that distant goal. I am a prize winner.

Amazing Grace indeed.

I have a goal, Uncategorized

I Have a Goal: A Joint Post

 

My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead. Not that I have already reached the goal, or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:10-12

From Susan:

I re-read these verses this week, and they deflated me at first. I realized that of all my goals—those I’ve stated out loud and those I’ve hidden in my heart—the goal of knowing Christ, knowing the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, well, it wasn’t my primary goal anymore.

Somewhere, my goals had shifted to more tangible things. I didn’t even realize it had happened.

I started to beat myself up about that, until I read a little further here. Paul himself, the great apostle, author of much of the New Testament, says of himself that while knowing Christ was his goal, he hadn’t reached it yet.

Paul—the Paul—hadn’t obtained this ideal.  Somehow it was comforting to remember that Paul was human, too.

But he did, at least, have the right goal. And that’s what I need to change.  I, like Paul, may still be at midfield with my soccer ball, but my eyes must not slip to the stands or the hot-dog vendor on the sidelines.  My eyes must stay on that net.

I need an internal shift, so that my goal is truly knowing Christ. To know the power of His resurrection and to know the fellowship of His suffering—what does it look like in modern America?

From Jen:

It doesn’t look like most modern Americans. Actually, I’m pretty sure it looks different than most people throughout history.

Jesus told his followers, “You cannot serve two masters. You will hate one of them and love the other.” He was speaking specifically about money, but the principle applies pretty much universally.

I cannot serve the master of selfish ambition and at the same time pursue Christ. I cannot chase the goal of comfort and at the same time take up my cross and follow Jesus. I can’t somehow make myself stand out for the sake of popularity and at the same time be a servant of Christ. These things have different masters, and I can’t serve them all.

To the church of Ephesus there was inscribed this charge: “You have forsaken the love you had at first.” Perhaps we could say it like this, “You have shifted your eyes to the wrong goal. It was, at first, a pure love, an honest desire for Me. Now it is for popularity, for success, for admiration, and for the blessings that I give rather than for Me.”

They looked godly—especially when compared to the rest. But there was a heart issue, and God knew it. He knows my heart, too, and let me confess, there are issues.

So, we have a new goal: to know Christ. What will we learn this week?