Monday, March 06, 2017

Bows and Arrows

Recently, I was asked to share a devotional at a baby shower and thought it would be fun to post this here too!

·         Psalm 127:3-5, “Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children are a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are son’s born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.”

·         When I think of arrows – some things that come to mind are:
o   They are sharp and dangerous
o   They need guidance: they can’t point, direct, guide or shoot themselves
o   They are man-made and must be fashioned and shaped just right to be precise and beneficial
o   The arrows are in the hands of a warrior, prepared and armed for battle

·         As Christian mothers, we pray that these arrows in our hands, in our quiver, would be useful for extending far into the world to fight a heavenly battle for souls to come to know Christ. We want to train our children to be mighty warriors for truth, goodness and beauty; for wisdom, knowledge and understanding; for the furtherance of His glory, His name, and His kingdom. 

·         Isaiah 49:1-3 says, “Listen to me, you islands, hear this, you distant nations. Before I was born the Lord called me: from my birth He has made mention of 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.’"

Just as our Heavenly Father prepared His Son as an arrow to pierce the hearts of men, so it is with our own children. Raising children is one of the most powerful weapons we can have against the enemy – it keeps the ranks of troops for God’s name always growing and as it ages – new souls are given for molding, shaping and training. This is not only Kingdom work, it is eternal imperishable work. Day by day, we as mothers, see so much of our work undone before our very eyes. But this work is for eternity! It is the only lasting work: the investment in souls!

·         So what do I learn as a mother and a supporter of mothers:
o   An arrow must be shaped, formed – we do not find arrows growing on trees. A skilled eye will look for just the right materials. The early mothering years are this shaping period – we train from a young age so that our children will go up straight and strong towards the ways of God.
o   An arrow needs more than just a good structure and straight frame. An arrow needs a point attached: how large, how sharp, what material? An arrow needs fletchlings to help guide and steady it. As we add other pieces it is like all the effort, we as moms, invest in our children’s character. We don’t want to release that arrow aimlessly or without thought, so we invest in the hearts of our children with prayer that they will point straight to God.
o   We hold arrows close in a quiver until we are ready to use it or need it. For a long time, we hold that arrow close, first we hold it in our hands a lot as we are shaping it and forming it into a useful tool, then we gather our arrows and put them in our quiver. For us, this is our home, spending time together as a family. The quiver is held close when we strap it on our back and hung at the ready when we get home. When we sling that quiver over our shoulder as we leave home and take those arrows with us – it is frequently for practice. Before we need the arrows, we want to be sure we know how to guide them to where we want them to go. When we take our children places with us – it can be for fun or necessity but much of it is for practice, those life skills they will need to be in the world but not of it. We want them to watch us interact with the world (most of the time!) but not be too drawn to its pleasures or power over our hearts and lives. We use practice in hunting to take aim and retrieve our arrows to practice again and again. As our children grow, we will give them opportunities to practice their freedom and independence as well.
o   An arrow does not release itself. Just as a piece of clay does not throw itself onto the Potter’s Wheel and form itself into something, so an arrow cannot form itself or even pick itself up and put itself into the bow to be released. It requires another to come along and guide, direct and aim it. There are many exterior circumstances which can change its direction: obstacles, wind, steadiness of hand, weather. An arrow can be scary as it is sharp and often seen as a weapon, but it can also be used as a tool to provide and protect. Our children, who are trained in godly character, have a lot of power available to them through our Mighty God. We need to guide them in how to properly and respectfully manage that privilege. And sometimes, we will need to remember that we are in a spiritual battle and we will need to be armed and ready for this is war.
o   Consider the bow – this is us mamas. The bow must be bent and pulled and stretched far outside of its normal shape to be useful. A friend sent me this quote which has challenged me in thinking about myself as a mom and how often we are called upon to give selflessly:
§  You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness; for even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He also loves the bow that is stable.” Khalil Gibran from “On Children”
o   Arrows are a blessing. Going back to our Psalm 127 passage, we see beautiful words associated with the receiving of children:
§  Heritage
§  Reward
§  Blessed
§  Not be put to shame
§  The verse says “like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth.” What is an arrow to a warrior? A warrior is courageous, brave and strong, he is a defender, protector, equipped for the challenge. So God has equipped us as women and we have purpose in life when we spend our time and energy doing what God has prepared us to do. Children are an opportunity. They are curious and honest and accepting.
o   No two arrows are exactly alike. Even though an arrow’s purpose is essentially the same – it is unlikely to consider there would be two exactly alike. Our children’s purpose is to grow to know God and tell others about Him. But God equips them with unique personality and gifts. It is exciting and challenging to watch that unfold as they grow.
o   Raising arrows is hard but rewarding work. As moms, we know this child raising and training is the hardest thing we will ever do. Our children will tire us more than we thought possible. They will sin until we feel like we’ll never succeed and they will bring sin to the surface in our own hearts that will scare and discourage us. Some of this is good as it causes us to depend heavily on our God. Some of it is just plain hard and during those time, it can be helpful to look back at the ways God has already provided for and helped us, to look forward to the ultimate goal of wanting our children to know Him and make Him known for the eternal capturing of other hearts. Regaining perspective on that big picture and remembering that it is a war we are fighting and battle is tough and exhausting and sometimes ugly. We can also hear God’s promises and take them to heart believing that He is confident and not wringing His hands in despair. As mama’s, let’s continue to sharpen our arrow-making craft: spending time as apprentices learning our skill, having teachable hearts, admitting when we mess up, keeping our eyes/mind focused on what really matters. When we are trained by God ourselves, it helps us to go back and train the little arrows in our care. We learn from the best! And He is a gentle leader yet a mighty warrior – isn’t that what we want for our children, the arrows in our quiver? And in those really hard moments, we can lean hard on Him and practice thankfulness for what He has done and will do.
                                                   Arrows {author unknown}
As parents we watch
With wonder and love
God work in our children –
His gifts from above!
We train them
We nurture them
We thank Him
And pray
That each one will love Him
And serve Him always,
And as the time nears
For these arrows to fly –
We let snap the bow
With a tear in our eyes
Fly swiftly, my arrow,
And strong, straight and true!
To praise God forever
And bring His glory through you!


angie said...

I've never attended a baby shower in which a devotional was part of the event. What a obviously brilliant idea! Would you mind if I include a small part of your text in a graduation letter that I plan to send?
I have a graphic tee with three arrows on it. I will always think of this scripture study when I wear it now.

Anonymous said...

This is just SO good Monica!!! Thank you for this beautiful reminder. Even with 3 adult children (did that really happen?), and a teenager it is still a very vital truth in my life to keep on investing and shaping!! Do not grow weary...~tammy

Brook said...

It was beautiful, Monica. Thank you💙