Marathon runners sometimes speak of “hitting the wall” in the later stages of the race. They lose energy and question whether they will finish due to the depletion of stored glycogen, a carbohydrate stored in our muscles.
When we “hit the wall” in the marathon of the Christian life, the cause is usually spiritual rather than physical. It can be due to a deficiency of faith or a lack of understanding. We may not realize that the life we want to live is already ours. The effort involved in the Christian life takes hold of what Christ has already obtained for us (v. 12). We are not trying to earn our salvation but seek to experience its reality in daily living. As New Testament commentator H. C. G. Moule explains, it is not a matter of attaining a goal but accepting a gift.
Some are unsuccessful in the Christian life because they do not understand themselves. They believe they have made more progress in the practice of holiness than is the case. To paraphrase Paul’s language in verse 13, they think they have arrived when they have only barely begun. Those that Paul characterizes as “mature” in verse 15 have learned to keep both perspectives in view. They know what Christ has done and are confident of the righteous standing He has obtained for them. At the same time, they know that they still have room to grow. Because of this, they are forward-looking in their perspective, like a runner who is straining toward the finish line. Instead of giving up in despair or slowing down out of spiritual complacency, they “press on toward the goal” (v. 14).
>> Your race of the Christian life differs from any other you have experienced because it is a race that has already been won. Because the trophy is a salvation that is already ours and God’s grace is what energizes us, our goal is to “live up to what we have already attained” (v. 16).
You have already secured our reward, Lord God. You are with us as we press on, “[f]orgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead” (Phil. 3:13). By Your grace, keep us faithful.