But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 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. Philippians 3:7-14
The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Behold, he stands behind our wall; He is looking through the windows, Gazing through the lattice. Song of Solomon 2:8,9
By night on my bed I sought the one I love; I sought him, but I did not find him. "I will rise now," I said, "And go about the city; In the streets and in the squares I will seek the one I love." I sought him, but I did not find him. The watchmen who go about the city found me; I said, "Have you seen the one I love?" Scarcely had I passed by them, when I found the one I love. I held him and would not let him go,....... Song of Solomon 3:1-4
What does it take for us to be among that company that are always "pressing on"? Have we even considered what that phrase might mean for us individually? For the Apostle Paul it was clear cut. He had his eye on the prize and that propelled him forth, compelling him to keep moving, ever advancing, towards the finish line. But even the finish line was not the end for him; he would not be satisfied until he obtained the prize for which he was called. The prize for Him was nothing less than to both possess and be totally possessed by Christ Jesus. To be found in Him, with nothing left of his own previous life in the flesh, nothing that would identify him as the one formerly known as Saul of Tarsus or even Paul the Apostle.
Believers tend to get a little nervous about that word "possession". We are used to using that word in relation to the demonic, and it doesn't often occur to us that it could even have a positive connotation. Total "possession" by Christ, however, is exactly what Paul was pressing towards, yearning for with all his soul, and exhorting us to pursue with all our might. He was speaking of nothing less than full and absolute abandonment. The God He knew and served was a God whose goal was to totally consume all that was not of Himself in Paul. The God he wrote to the Philippians about was a God who would be satisfied with nothing less than full possession of this vessel He had "laid hold of."
How often do we think of Christ in these terms? As One whose intention is to seize and own us, as One who will be satisfied with nothing less than the fullness of Himself demonstrated in our fleshly frames? We don't speak of our God in these terms because the whole concept is both uncomfortable and unfamiliar. We like to speak of a God who shepherds us gently rather than a God who consumes us with uncompromising holy fire. Both these are aspects of His nature, but when was the last time you heard someone passionately crying out to be fully possessed by the Spirit of God, nothing held back from His refining fire? When was the last time you heard preaching that passionately exhorted you to count ALL you had ever done or been up to this day as rubbish, in order to gain Christ?
The full and literal meaning of the word rendered as "lay hold" is to "lay hold of so as to make one's own, to seize upon, take possession of." If we will receive this truth, any idea we have ever held that our lives are our own will be exposed as a lie. We have been "laid hold of," "apprehended," "taken possession of" by Christ Jesus Himself. To "press on" means to actively pursue something eagerly. We know the scriptures say that we have been bought with a price, yet many of us struggle through each day just trying to keep limping along to that finish line, let alone pressing toward it with abandonment.
If you will think about it, I believe you will agree that those times when our spiritual lives have suddenly become energized and our vision has become clear, are those times when we have momentarily caught a glimpse of the prize, Christ Himself, waiting just beyond the finish line. At such moments of grace, we have been blessed and left breathless with a sense of the depth of His love for us, the magnitude of His power to free and transform us, and the eternal riches of relationship with Him that are to be unfolded in His Presence. We have felt His Presence, experienced His Touch, heard Him speak, or received some new revelation of Him that has suddenly made the finish line defined more clearly, and the "prize" awaiting us desirable above all other things. We have caught sight of Him leaping upon a mountain, skipping on the hills, standing and looking through the window, and all of our being yearns to follow Him, whatever the cost. At such moments we literally experience the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord. He captures our hearts and we are compelled to cry out "Have you seen the One I love?" abandoning all we call "reasonable" to pursue Him.
Have you known such moments? Have you tasted Him, smelled Him, touched Him, glimpsed Him "gazing through the lattice", beckoning you to come with Him? If you have, then let nothing become more precious to you than laying hold of that for which Christ Jesus has laid hold of YOU. What is the "that" we press towards? It is the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ! It is being found in Him, knowing Him both in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. He is the prize that compels us to press on, counting all things lost, reaching with all our might toward the goal, holding Him and not letting go. He is our exceeding great reward, our pearl of great price and the fullness that fills all in all.