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.