“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)
In the summer of 2005, I struggled to decide on my future. My dilemma centered on two options. Either return to Richmond, Kentucky, and obtain my Masters in Sports Business and Administration at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU), or go to seminary in North Carolina.
For years I wanted to go to seminary, study scripture, learn to become a minister, and more. At the same time, I had the opportunity to return to my beloved alma mater and graduate school. Naturally, I reached out to my Dad, and that’s when he gave me his last significant piece of advice before passing. Advice that I too often forget, but when remembered, serves as a compass for my future direction.
He said, “Son, no matter what choice you choose, make a decision, and don’t look back!”
That was it! His advice was not original, but his timing was crucial, and I’ve remembered it throughout my life. At least when I remember my Dad’s words.
Looking to scripture, that is why I love Philippians 3:13-14 so much. If you are like me too often, we face analysis paralysis, keeping us from making necessary decisions. I know I’m my worst critic and too often condemn myself for past decisions or mistakes. However, no one can change the past, and this passage encourages me to “forget what lies behind and reach forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize.”
The best place to look for direction is to complete the passage, “the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” In other words, seeking God’s guidance that glorifies Christ is always our best path ahead. A course where we need not look back or become like a “pillar of salt.” (Genesis 19:26) Plus, looking behind robs us of His future and potential for our nest lives where we walk with Jesus and point others to Him!
Without looking back, I chose to EKU for graduate school, where I earned a Masters in Sports Business and Administration.
As a result, the following happened:
- Dad passed away just a few months later, within days of Thanksgiving.
- The following summer, I completed the Master’s degree at EKU.
- Due to graduating, I received a job offer in Montgomery, Alabama.
- In Montgomery, I met my wife, Amy, and we’ve been married for over ten years.
- Oh, and I ended up graduating from seminary anyway, the school of my dreams, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
- Since then, I’ve had fantastic opportunities as an Army Chaplain. Opportunities where I’ve been able to utilize both degrees simultaneously as a Chaplain and Officer.
All of the above and more has been possible because I followed my Dad’s advice, “make a decision and don’t look back!” Admittedly, my Dad and I had our ups and downs, but I’m grateful we had this conversation. Over the years it’s served as a reminder of his love for me, my siblings, and given me a guiding principle to honor him with my life. Time has let me see the good that the Lord gave me through my Father, for which I’m grateful.
Furthermore, since initially applying his words, it created a ripple effect within my life. Don’t get me wrong; there have been plenty of struggles where I wanted to give up. But, the rich things in my life outweigh the challenges. Difficulties that sometimes existed because I didn’t make a decision, and I kept looking back!
Know that I consider myself fortunate for God’s grace to do both graduate school and seminary. Rarely someone decides to leave a path behind for that option to reemerge. Fast-forward to 2020, and I’m at another crossroads in my life. One where I probably won’t achieve all the possibilities I desire. Therefore, I have to answer the following questions and more.
There are many things I could do, but which one(s) should I do? What then feeds my passion? Which road is now closed off for me? What opportunities could I leave behind forever?
You may find yourself in a similar anxious situation. If so, we can only choose one option and should not back. Meaning, whatever we choose, select with our whole heart and invest your best energy on that path.
Again, I, too, often forget my Dad’s advice, “make a decision, and don’t look back!” Due to my forgetfulness, it’s one reason I share this encouragement with you; I hope it will help me remember this phrase. Also, I look to post the words in a place where I’ll see them regularly. Most importantly, as I currently face a crossroads, I plan to apply his words now to determine my next direction prayerfully. If you, too, need guidance, either now or later, I pray it will be an encouragement for you also.
When that time comes, choose God’s best, invest, and don’t look back!