Isaiah 49:1-4 (NIV) Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the Lord called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name. He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver. He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.” But I said, “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing at all. Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.”
I had this vision of an arrow sailing through the air. I could not see the archer who shot it. The target was not clear. It was simply whistling by. It was for me. Not intended to harm me but to pierce my heart. I knew that there was a message for those who are far from the beginning but cannot see the end. Endurance is a quality that God instills in us to win. Jesus said, “Those who endure to the end will be saved.” The beginning of a thing is excited with a rush all its own. The end is triumphant and often a welcome relief from the journey. However, the battle is won and target achieved in the middle. The ones who decide to continue when nothing is clear. Like an arrow, the archer has a target in sight. A mark that is aimed for. He releases the arrow to cover the distance and when it arrives at the destination fulfill its purpose. The arrow does make a sound it just does what it was created to do. What about you? Are you in the middle of something? Wondering if you will ever make the mark or maybe feeling as though you missed it altogether? Does your life seem to be a perpetual flight with no landing in sight? Oh friend, there is purpose in your destination too wonderful to miss.
He made me a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver. Persistence, perseverance, patience, endurance, discipline and the like are contrary to human nature. To wait on the Lord and trust in His Purpose and Plan are difficult to an untrusting people who have been tainted by disappointment, betrayal, pain, and a lack of fulfillment. How do I know that the designated purpose delineated for me will bring me the full satisfaction that is promised? Well, there is only one way to find out. A polished arrow has been through some refinement or perhaps a great deal of fires and forging to prepare it for the moment of release. It is carefully hidden in the archer’s quiver for an appointed time and destination. The waiting can be the hardest part. We miss the peacefulness of His Rest eager to see if He will be faithful. If we could only learn to overcome doubt and fear in order to embrace the Faithfulness of God – who is the mighty archer ready to release us at any moment.
But I said, “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing at all. Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.” Can I encourage you today that God is not finished with you yet? Perhaps, He has not even begun to show you the reward set aside for you at the end. We must stop saying that our labor is in vain just because it has not hit the mark yet. Discouragement laced with the lie of the enemy tells us that our strength is spent with nothing to show for it. Grace says that in my weakness I will have His Power as my own. To place our life in God’s Hand completely is the only way to reach the mark and claim the prize. However, it is not in our doing anything but rather submitting our life to His Hand, remaining in His Presence and going where He sends us.
Isaiah 49:5-6 (NIV) And now the Lord says—he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord and my God has been my strength—he says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
How often the words in Psalm 139 escape us! The part where the Lord reveals that every single day of our life is carefully recorded before a moment lived. The promise of Romans 8 that He works every detail of our life for good simply because of our love for Him. No matter what happens in life or what I do – nothing will ever separate me from His Love. His Grace offers power in my complete weakness. To trust Him and know Him releases the full potential in my life to achieve God’s Purpose and Plan. Not because I am worthy of any of it – but because He is good and does not lie or change His Mind. He is faithful. Someone needs to hear that today. Stop beating yourself up because of faults and failures. Don’t look back – keep your eyes fixed on the future. Reclaim your joy and peace again by positioning yourself in His Presence and waiting for the Lord to do what He promised. All things will work together when we stop trying to work it all out and figure it out as well. God has a plan. He has a purpose just for you. He will do exactly as He promised.
Philippians 3:10-12 (NIV) I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
What is your mark today? Goal? Prize? Desire? Purpose? We all have one. The primary purpose of our life is to know Christ and be united with God the Father to become part of His Kingdom. The benefits and blessings of such a pursuit are the potential of our life and purpose. In Hebrews 12, there is insight to something that I never noticed before. “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Did you see it? It says, “The race marked out for us”. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean you can’t believe it! We must fix our eyes on Jesus. He must be and remain our primary focus to persevere in the pressing for the mark. Your destination is divine. The pathway secure. You just have to keep on keeping on to make it.
There are some other things that the arrow reminds us to do. We must aim for something. (I Corinthians 9:26-27) It is said that if you aim for nothing you will hit it every time. This is true in trying to experience Kingdom life lived without expectation. We must aim for consistency. (2 Corinthians 5:8-9) We must aim for honor. (2 Corinthians 8:20-21) Honoring God in all we do will keep us steady on course. People are not the problem but each one holds potential. However, the enemy will send fiery darts towards us to cause our arrow to lose course. (Ephesians 6:16) Do not be distracted. Keep the faith. Aim to remain faithful and focused in the flight. (2 Timothy 2:4) There are many arrows in God’s Quiver each with its own purpose – we must aim for unity. (2 Corinthians 13:11-12) We are in this together. Fighting for the same faith. Trusting in the same Lord. Members of the same body. Residents of His Kingdom not at war with each other but all that comes against it.
I Timothy 1:5 (NIV) The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
The aim of our charge or tip of the arrow must always be a deep and penetrating love that cuts through our heart to produce a good conscience and sincere faith. The only good in me is Jesus Christ. My faith is in Him as He is the “pioneer and perfecter” of it. On those days when it feels like we just keep on keeping on, it’s easy to lose sight of where we came from or where we are going. These are the days when our eyes must go back to the archer. The arrow that honors the archer stays on course and hits the target every time. It may seem like you are flying aimlessly to nowhere but if God is the One who released you – I promise that you are going places. Amazing and wonderful destinations of prosperity and fulfillment. Have faith in the Archer today. Stay the course. Hit the mark. You will be found faithful in the end and have the rich and satisfying life that He has sent you after.
Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV) Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.