“Several years ago a movie came out that became a cult classic. It was a comedy, but also made you look at life a little differently. I assume most of you at one time or another has seen the movie City Slickers with Billy Crystal and Jack Palance. I will never forget the classic line spoken by Jack Palance’s character, Curly. He was a rough riding cowboy and was hired as a guide for three city slickers who wanted to be a cowboy for a vacation. They faced many hardships as they learned to be a cowboy and at times were lost and confused as to what to do. But Curly kept telling them they needed to remember “one thing” to be successful at what they were doing. He kept holding up his finger and reminding them of that one thing. But he would not tell them what that one thing was. Unfortunately, he died before he could tell them what that one thing was.”
– excerpt from Pursuing Your God-Given Dreams
This past Sunday, my pastor Dennis Gallaher, had a great sermon that spoke to many hearts. Although he had several really great points in his sermon, I want to zero in on one small part of the message that he took from Philippians 3:12-14. Using this passage of Scripture, which is one of my all time favorite section of the Bible, he encouraged us to have a singular purpose as we pursue the things of God.
As New Year Day turned into New Years Week, the thought of a singular focus returned to my mind. At the time of year when people people make New Years Resolutions that they are lucky to keep through the first week or two of the new year, I began to realize that as great as New Years Resolutions are, maybe it would be better to focus on “just one thing” for 2012.
Whereas in City Slickers, Curly died before he coule give us what that one thing was, God did not leave us hanging. He did not tell us there was one thing we needed to do to fulfill our dreams, but never tell us what that one thing was. Spelled out very clearly Philippians 3:12-14 is that one thing we are to focus all our energy on.
I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven. Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT)
And that is where I choose to live my life in 2012.
“Forgetting the past” (2011). It is not healthy or profitable to dwell on the negatives that occurred during the last calendar year. The Apostle Paul tells us we need to forget the past. On the other hand, I can’t dwell on the triumphs of 2011 and live off the laurels of the great times. They were good, but they are over. It is time to forget them.
“Looking forward to what lies ahead” (2012). This year has not been written yet. We do not know what lies ahead. It might be new and exciting opportunities or it might be failures. We simply don’t know at this point. And what we think we might know can end up exactly opposite. I am choosing to look 2012 with optimism. Why? Because the Bible tells us to. But that is not all. Would I rather look ahead to the year in hope or in fear? What kind of year would it be if I just focused on fear? I would dread each day and live in worry about what the next day might hold. However, if I wake up each day viewing it with hope, I will have a much better chance of seeing God’s day to day work bringing me life.
“I strain to reach the end of the race.” How will I grow and change in the year 2012? That will be up to me. How am I going to react to the things God brings my way? If I keep my focus where it should be, each day I will be straining to grow through each day. I will get the better of each day before it gets the better of me. String together several days of winning the day and it will turn into a winning week. Weeks then become a month. And after twelve months, I will again be staring a new year in the eye, telling myself that I had accomplished the goal of the year because I kept the singular focus.
Will you join me in this commitment for the year? May this be the year that you pursue youg God-given dreams.