12 Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:12-14
Wow! It sure was windy Sunday. You know how I know this? The previously pristine and green lawn in front of our house was suddenly and unceremoniously blanketed with leaves, refugees from a natural area across the street, and perhaps, considering the volume of them, a representative delegation from every neighborhood in South Charlotte.
Just one day earlier, upon completing my Saturday morning run, I paused for a moment to pick up a stray 10-12 leaves that had interrupted the flawless carpet of emerald green outside our front door. There was a sense of completion as I restored order to the spotless tableaux. All the leaves from the trees in our yard had now fallen, been corralled by the business end of a rake, and cast into leaf purgatory where autumn brilliance dissolves into summer mulch. What a thrill it is to bask in the glory of a job completed once again. However, the thrill was gone by Sunday afternoon. I could faintly hear the habitually procrastinating trees across the way mocking me, having decided this to be the perfect time to relieve themselves, and conspiring with the wind, sully the verdant canvas I enjoy more than I should. Watching from our front door, it felt like my yard was Normandy, and the natural area across the street comprised the forces of the Allied Invasion. One tree, as yet unidentified, was particularly officious, its leaves the size of B-17 bombers, counting my yard as the perfect landing strip.
So, Monday morning, I was out there again with both my rake and electric-leaf-sucking-backpack-tool (not sure that’s the official name :-). My mood was a bit more subdued, acknowledging to myself, that this would most likely not be the last leaf mission of the year. A job never truly reaching completion, but continuously pursued, nevertheless. Yet, isn’t that the story of life itself? We never actually reach completion. There is always more work to be done, just as there are always more responsibilities to be fulfilled, more ideas to be fleshed out, more lessons to be learned, more reconciliations to be pursued, more apologies to be made, more thanks to be given. Aren’t we always in the process of becoming? I still find myself occasionally wondering what life will look like when I finally grow up. We can relate to the prophet Isaiah who acknowledged, “Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted.” And it certainly doesn’t get any easier as I grow old.
However, very often the exhaustion is related to our despairing that we will never get done. Thus, the challenge is to discover purpose in the doing, which coincidentally, provides energy for the doing. Maybe Isaiah was onto something. “Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” So, let us, like Paul before us, press on! There can still be hope for completion, but there will always be the potential for both energy and joy in becoming.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I see more leaves in my front yard.