Raising kids is tough, it’s not for the faint of heart. The thought on most of our hearts is, “How do I become a good parent? How do I raise good kids?” I’d like to share a story with you that I think will bring you perspective on this question.
The archer had been walking the woods for hours, scanning the ground left and right, looking for the perfect shaft to create his arrows. Suddenly there was a crack overhead and the archer jumped as the branch came crashing to the ground. The archer looked over the splintered and cracked branch which had landed mere meters from him. He gathered the pieces and returned back to his work shop.
As he laid the pieces out and scanned over each of their features, he took notice of the grain, weight, and diameter of each piece. He thoughtfully sorted through the pieces and began working on each piece individually to create the perfect shaft.
Testing the spine and gauging how straight the shaft would be took precision and patience. He put the piece of wood up to his eye and peered down the length, looking for any bend in the wood. With every imperfection he found, he worked the bend through the heel of his hand gently compressing the wood on one side while causing the fibers to stretch on the other side. His eye for straightness combined with his gentle but firm pressure began to straighten each shaft; after hours of patience and hard work, he laid a perfectly straight piece of wood on his work bench.
He sat down on the stool next to the straightened staff, he knew he had to be careful with the next step. He needed a steady hand and all the knowledge he gathered over his years of practice. Slowly and carefully he began to taper one end of the staff. If the taper was not accurate the result would be an arrow with very poor flight. He worked in small steady strokes until he had reached the perfect taper.
He flipped the staff over and began notching the other end. This nock would be the cradle for the bowstring. He worked steadily to create the perfect fit between the shaft and the string. Knowing that his fit was important to propel the arrow towards its target, he needed it needed to be seamless.
He looked over his shaft, seeing that his work was good, began to stain the wood a rich brown. He followed this with several coats of lacquer, carefully sanding between each coat to get a perfect finish.
He opened the cabinet above his table and pulled down two boxes. Looking through the content of these boxes he carefully selected two turkey feathers and a flint rock. He set his treasures on the table to look over them. He set the flint rock aside and placed the feathers at the center of his work station. Carefully he chopped the feathers, working not to roll it and change the landing edge. When he had them cut to the right length he set them aside.
As the sun peaked in the sky the archer picked up his flint rock and walked to the shade of this porch outside. The breeze that passed between the posts felt refreshing. With steady hands and a skillful eye the archer began knapping. For an hour the archer worked at flacking; slowly and precisely the arrow head took shape.
The arrow was nearly ready. With the lacquer dry the archer prepared to crest his shaft. He painted nine colors against the wood. This crest would identify this arrow against every other archers arrow. With the crest dried the archer attached the fletching and arrow head. He took care in wrapping the feathers making sure they set flush against the shaft. He mounted his arrow head and begin wrapping the wood around the head with sinew. Wrap after wrap the wood squeezed tighter around arrow head cementing it in place.
The sun was now low in the sky, casting a warm shadow through the dust of the shop, the archer was finally finished. He placed the arrow on a stand to let the sinew dry. With patience he waited, the sun rose and fell twice, the arrow sat drying, letting all the work of the archers hand come to a complete finish.
Then the day came. The archer turned the arrow over in his hand, inspecting his work. He peered down the shaft making sure that, again, it was perfectly straight. Seeing that his work was done, he placed the arrow into his quiver.
As he walked he thought about all the work he had put into such a delicate and fragile piece of wood and rock. Would all his work hold together, would it fly straight? He knew he had put all the right things into the arrow. He trusted the strength of the materials he had used. But he knew, he would never know how well he had done until the arrow was released from his bow.
His path came to an end, he peered out across a vast valley. It was time to test everything he had worked so hard for. He lifted the arrow from it’s quiver, the nock fit seamlessly against his bowstring. He pulled back, drawing a deep arch. This moment, he worked so hard for, it came down to this moment. Would the arrow fly? Would it hold together under the pressure of the force that would propel it through flight? Would it hit it’s intended target?
We have such a short time to pour into our children. Like the archer from the story, we strive to provide our children with the best material. We pull from our and others’ years of knowledge and wisdom.
When they’re young we spend hours teaching them, creating an environment that will shape them and mold them for life and the calling God has placed on their lives; just as the archer did as he worked to make the shaft straight.
As they grow we refine them, like the archer with the flint rock, skillfully chipping away and refining their character.
We coat them in prayer as the archer did with the lacquer and we work to adorn them with the fruit of the spirit.
We give them every thing we think they need so they can fly, including splitting and trimming their feathers so they have direction and purpose.
All this hard work goes toward one thing…..
HE RELEASED: all the pressure, all the hard work; the bowstring sliced through the air propelling the arrow forward. If you would have been able to run fast enough to keep up with it you would have heard the wind singing as it danced around the feathers. Forward the arrow flew as if it was continually propelled by an unseen force, and just when you thought it might go on forever, it’s target came clearly into focus. As it sank into the target the fiber of the wood, the sinew, the feathers, and the arrow head worked together, puncturing deep into the target, discovering its purpose and what it was created to do.
….the day they are released from our care and soar into the world, built from a solid foundation, adorned with knowledge, wisdom, and the skills they need to fly with ONE PURPOSE in mind. So they might MEET the CALLING GOD has on their LIFE.
“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children 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 opponents in court.” Psalm 127:3-5 (NIV)
Create Arrows of Strength
- Mold them while they are young.
- Equip them with knowledge and wisdom as they grow.
- Adorn them with faith and truth through the Word of God.
- Set them free to find their calling
Your child is unique, parent them that way. Study your child and see where they bend and bow…then gently and firmly work to make them straight…equip them with knowledge and wisdom…paint them with the truth of the Word of God…and then release them to soar! Will you be their archer?