Monday, October 19, 2009

I Am An Arrow

Shine conference 2009 was wonderful. Podcasts are available to download at or just click here. On Thursday night Pastor Laura shared a wonderful message on one part of the conference theme: Hear the Cry. One verse she shared really stood out to me:

Isaiah 49:1-3 from The Message:

Listen, far-flung islands, pay attention, faraway people: God put me to work from the day I was born. The moment I entered the world he named me. He gave me speech that would cut and penetrate. He kept his hand on me to protect me. He made me his straight arrow and hid me in his quiver. He said to me, "You're my dear servant, Israel, through whom I'll shine."

One of the things we believe is that what God said in the Bible about one of his servants can apply to his servants today. He shows no favorites, he never changes, so we grab hold of things he said thousands of years ago as if he is saying them to us today. We say with Isaiah "God made ME his straight arrow" .

During her message, Pastor Laura invited a 14 yr old girl who is part of an archery club to come and shoot an arrow across our stage. It was captivating! I watched her carefully as she prepared to shoot her arrow. I noticed that from the moment she stepped on the stage her eyes were on the target. Her focus was clearly intent on that bulls eye stage left. The few times that she had to look away for a moment in her preparation were followed by intense focus back on the target.

It's funny, how consumed we become with our little arrows. I think sometimes we assume that God is consumed with our arrows too. As I watched this young archer it occurred to me me that God's heart is focused on the target! In other translations of this verse I found a few different adjectives to describe the arrow. A "straight" arrow. A "polished" arrow. A "sharpened" arrow. Clearly, the state of the arrow IS important. God is depending on us to be sharp and to fly straight. Yet, all the while we obsess about our own small stories God is looking at the big picture. Focusing on His Story. He is looking toward the goal and counting on us to reach the target.

Our beautiful archer was intentional, deliberate and painfully slow in her preparation. There were several pieces of equipment that she had to put on and the quiet was awkward. I found myself thinking we should have some background music or something. Come on sound man! It was uncomfortable as we all watched her slow, steady progress. Then I remembered this little thought that times of preparation are never wasted. It was obvious that our young archer would not be rushed. The quiet, the silence didn't seem to bother her. She was thinking about the target, remember. Everything that needed to be done in order to assure reaching that target was going to be done systematically and accurately.

Doesn't God's timing feel excruciatingly slow? We may feel like we are ready to fly! Launch me to my purpose Lord! We question why other arrows seem to fly before our own. We feel stuck in that awkward place called preparation. It's dark inside a quiver. Our vision is limited and we don't see all that God is accomplishing in those quiet times. I'm confident that God is at work. Completing what he started. Bringing to pass his purpose (See Ps 57:2, Phil 1:6, I Pet 5:10)

Everyone in the room cheered as the arrow was finally flung and as it struck dead center of the target. There was never any doubt in my mind that she would reach the target. Her eyes had penetrated that same spot before the arrow was ever set in the bow. That canvas target was changed. It had been pierced, infiltrated. I remember years ago when I was not an arrow in God's quiver. I was the target. God sent another one of his servants flying to me. His love pierced my heart and I was forever changed. I'm so thankful for that arrow that flew into my life!

Now, as the arrow, and I wonder what target does God have for me to fly to? Where can I bring his love? Where can I bring hope and change? I'm not sure I know the exact spot right now and maybe the truth is that there is more than one bullseye for each of us. I do know that I have to stay continually surrendered to this awkward process of growth and confidently trust His timing in my life.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Way back in the beginning when God was creating the world, He paused at the end of the day and saw that it was good. He approved completely of the work he had done on the earth. Then we see something curious in Genesis 2:18 The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone….. Something was ‘Not Good” and God set about immediately to fix it. He created woman. Eve was the solution for mankind’s first problem. And I believe with all my heart that God’s design for woman hasn’t ever changed. We are carriers of life, we are nurturers, and we are keepers of relationship. We are created to bring the answer. Unfortunately, I’ve learned from my own experience that we can’t very well reach out to offer a solution when our hands are bound. We desperately need to be free. For me, that is what the Shine conference is all about: God bringing freedom to His girls!

A few years ago our Shine conference was the catalyst for change in me. I was bound in shame, fear and pain. I had been hurting for so long and had learned quite well how to stuff those feelings inside. Denial was a lovely salve, until I began to reach capacity and all the junk I’d kept inside started coming out sideways. I was angry for all the ‘whys” of my life. I was lonely and sad and the last thing on earth I felt was shine-y. I did not want to go to the conference that year; in fact I was working on the excuses I might use with my friends…. “I don’t have anything to wear, and I’m so busy at work….” But in the midst of planning my avoidance I found this scripture, Psalm 18:28 reads You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With that, God melted my jaded heart. Yes, my light had been doused by the pain of my past but it wasn’t up to ME to make it shine again. God said HE would do it! I went to the conference with a heart to receive all God had for me. I really had no idea what that would mean, but looking back it has been one of the landmarks of my journey. I came away with two vital things: Courage to face the truth about my life and Hope to believe that I could be free!

When I compare who I am today with the woman I was several years ago, I see more wrinkles, more mid-life breakouts and a lot more gray hair. But on occasion, it seems like God changes my perspective and what I see amazes me; because I see beauty for all my mess, I see joy for what I felt was lost and I see a gorgeous garment of praise for the heaviness of heart that weighed me down (Isaiah 61:3). And I’m so thankful for the difference Jesus has made! It thrills me to tell you that I am more alive than ever and this is the reason: I know that if God did this for me - He will do it for you!

God wants you free. Galatians 5:1 says It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. God wants his girls to be free so we can reach out to a younger generation, so we can extend a helping hand to hurting humanity and so we can be the solution He created us to be. But I think God really just wants us to be free….so that… we are free!

Free to Hear the cry, See the need, Feel the pain and RESPOND with love!