The late, great Hall of Fame New York Yankee catcher, Yogi Berra, was famous not only for his on the field heroics, but his funny off the field quips, which came to be known as Yogi-isms.
He once responded about his witticisms, “I never said most of the things I said.”
After a game, when he was asked about going to a certain restaurant, Yogi responded, “Nobody goes to that restaurant anymore — it’s too crowded.”
Here are a few more.
“You can see a lot by watching.”
“The future ain’t what it used to be.”
“I don’t want to make the wrong mistake.”
“When you come to a fork in the road…. take it.”
“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else.”
Regarding direction in life, Yogi’s right. You need to know where you’re going if you want to end up in the right place. Too many people spend their lives drifting spiritually, deceiving themselves, and hoping everything will turn out all right.
This week we’re writing about our 2021 theme: “Reaching Forward.” It’s based on Paul’s words to the Philippians from a Roman prison toward the end of his life.
“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14).
There are at least 4 essential elements involved if we want to reach forward to win the race, fulfill God’s purpose in our lives, and receive the heavenly reward. Yesterday we considered the importance of devotion. Today, let’s think about direction.
Too often many people allow themselves to be saddled and shackled by past regrets, mistakes, and sins. Paul was not looking backward, but rather reaching forward. He said, “forgetting those things which are behind.” Of course, forgetting the past doesn’t mean we can erase our memory. Warren Wiersbe explained it this way.
“Please keep in mind that in Bible terminology, ‘to forget’ does not mean ‘to fail to remember.’ Apart from senility, hypnosis, or a brain malfunction, no mature person can forget what has happened in the past. We may wish that we could erase certain bad memories, but we cannot. ‘To forget’ in the Bible means ‘no longer to be influenced by or affected by.’”
While we cannot change the past, we do not have to live in the past. We don’t have to be defined by our past life. Just like Paul, by God’s grace, overcame his former life as a persecutor of Christ, and became a proclaimer of His gospel, we can break the chains of the past.
No runner ever won a race by constantly looking backward. It’s a good way to stumble and fall. Just like the runner stays focused on the finish line ahead, Christian runners must keep their spiritual eyes focused on the future reward, “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:2).
Of course, we also can be distracted by looking back at our successes. Some churches are living in the glory days of the past, all the while they are in decline. This can be true of preachers, pastors, and all Christians. Even though He was aged, shackled by chains in prison, and approaching the end of his life, Paul didn’t waste time reminiscing about the good ole days. And neither should we.
“Reaching forward” spiritually must define our direction in life. Reaching forward to deeper communion with God. Reaching forward to greater spiritual maturity. Reaching forward to strengthening relationships. Reaching forward to serving the needs of others. And reaching forward to share our faith with those lost in sin.
Finally remember the words of William Barclay who was right when he wrote: “However far you go, it is not much use if it is not in the right direction.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman