On July 4, 1952, Florence Chadwick attempted to swim the channel from Catalina Island to California. She was no new comer to long distance swimming. She was the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions. The conditions that day were challenging. The water was numbing cold. Sharks were driven away by rifle fire. But the greatest challenge was the fog. The fog was so thick that you could barely see the boats that accompanied her. For 15 hours, she swam before asking to be taken out of the water. Her trainer attempted to urge her on, but to no avail. She quit only to find herself one mile from land. In an interview she said, “I’m not excusing myself, but if I could have seen the land I might have made it.” The fog obscuring her view of the goal had defeated her.
Do we see our goal or does the “fog” of busyness and daily living obscure our sight and discourage us? One thing is certain—Christian living is goal oriented. Listen to the Apostle Paul.
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:7-14, ESV
Paul clearly sees his goal. He realizes that he has not yet attained it. He is willing to sacrifice everything to attain “the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Such goal oriented language is not unusual in scripture (see also 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Matthew 6:33, Matthew 22:37, and Ecclesiastes 12:13).
Two months after Florence Chadwick’s failed attempt, she again stepped into the waters off Catalina. She swam the distance setting a new speed record for the swim. The difference—this time she could see her goal. The fog had lifted.
Is there a fog obscuring your sight of the goal of life? May we with Paul say, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14, ESV).