… I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus — Philippians 3:12ff
Paul the apostle was one of the most influential, impact-making, legacy-leaving people in all human history. His amazing work is still paying rich dividends until today. How did he do it?
So far, we have learned:
Principle One: Grace brings world-change;
Principle Two: Righteousness brings world-change - when you change into the righteous image of Christ, you are then empowered to be an agent of change to the world.
Principle Three: Knowing Christ. Christ is such a powerful, singular figure that knowing Him brings empowerment in return.
Principle Four: Taking hold of Christ.
Let’s review the last step - which is the most important. Philippians 3 tells us the secret: he let go of ‘everything’ in his life - good, bad, and ugly - so he would be ‘hands free’ to take hold of Christ and His purposes for Paul’s life. That’s what the above verse is about. The principle of ‘apprehending’ is the Greek word katalambano, which means to seize, apprehend, take hold, and win the prize. So to apprehend Christ and His purpose for your life means you are partnering with the Lord Himself; He is the senior and you are the junior partner. When that happens, things begin to change, starting with you.
In this fifth and final article, let’s elaborate about ‘taking hold/katalambano. Here are some Biblical examples:
The Patriarch Jacob: Jacob is a superlative example of katalambano. He had secretly fled from his uncle Laban in order to return to the land of Canaan in Genesis 32. His wives, handmaidens, children, and all his possessions, were with him. Soon, he had Laban on his back and a angry brother Esau in his face. Either way, he face serious trouble, perhaps violence, from one or both of these men. In desperation, he chose to wrestle with the Angel until the breaking of the day. Such a contest of strength would have seemed more suitable to macho Esau, the huntsman and ‘man’s man,’ than to a ‘sensitive new age guy,’ like Jacob.
Yet it was Jacob, not Esau, who demonstrated the greatest strength of all. Despite the attempts of the Angel to shoo him away, Jacob sunk his fingernails deeply. ‘I will not let you go until you bless me!’ he declared. At one point, the Angel injured the hollow of Jacob’s thigh. Even in pain, he continued to lay hold. At the end, the Angel had no choice but to bless him. Part of the blessing was the changing of his name from Jacob, which means ‘supplanter’ or ‘heal catcher,’ to Israel, ‘Prince of God.’ Jacob went from ‘red-blood’ to ‘blue blood’ by taking hold of the King of kings and Lord of Lords.
Hannah: The wife of Elkanah, Hannah also demonstrated katalambano or laying hold in I Samuel 1. Though married to a good man, she was miserable due to her barrenness. Elkanah’s second wife was very fruitful in this area; she was also very nasty. Her taunts and insults caused Hannah to fret to the core of her being. In extreme anxiety, she went to the one and only place that could answer her deep pain: The House of the Lord. In Hannah’s day, it was the Tabernacle of Moses at Shiloh. So she entered into the sacred precincts, went as far as she was allowed, and there she parked herself in prayer. Like Jacob, Hannah was not going to let go until God blessed her … and He did. Unlike the anonymous children of Elkanah’s second wife, Hannah’s son became the greatest prophet Israel had seen since Moses. His name is Samuel or Shmu’el, ‘heard from God.’ God’s best is worth the wait. Those who lay hold of Christ are assured of answered prayer, no matter what the size of the request.
Like any teaching, there has to be a practical component with the theoretical. Remember to apply verses 13-14 of Philippians 3. It tells us:
1. Forget what is behind you. You cannot lay hold if you are always holding on to old memories, both bad and good.
2. Reach out to what lies ahead. Be people who are future-minded and forward looking.
Most importantly, you need to:
3. Press toward the mark of the prize of the high-calling of God in Christ Jesus. Without this final step, you will not seal your victory. Focus on Christ and His vision to the exclusion of all else and love God with all of your being.
God has called us to nothing less than making a difference in our world. This becomes gloriously possible when we relinquish everything else and let Christ be our sole — and soul— focus.