Wednesday, 25 October 2006

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.

Isaiah 49:1-2

How are arrows made?

Firstly, a shaft needs to be found, but it must not be simply any stick. Nor should it be a green stick, full of life, budding and swaying in the wind.

A good arrow shaft is one that has dried up, been blown about in the wind, battered, and is now lying on the ground, seemingly dead and useless.

The arrowmaker will pick that stick up, use his knife and cut away and file down any bumps in order to make the stick as straight as possible. And then he ties a rock to it and throws it in the river to seemingly drown.

The stick doesn't stay there for a day or two. It sits in there, wet and cold, soaking in all the moisture and is picked up again by the arrowmaker at the end of eight weeks.

By this time, the stick is pretty much like spaghetti and simply flops around. But the arrowmaker isn't done yet. This time, he attaches a string to one end of the stick and ties it to a tree. Then he does the same to the other end, stretches the stick and then ties it to another tree.

He returns a day later, not to release the stick from the pain, but to stretch it further so that any sagging is removed. That is repeated day after day, the stick is stretched to its limits, for another eight weeks.

When the stick is removed from the trees, it is now much straighter than it ever have been. But the arrowmaker isn't done yet. He picks up his knife and starts shaving at the stick again. Shaving at it to make sure there are no bumps, and that nothing is sticking out that will cause it to catch the wind and fly in a direction it wasn't meant to.

And then the shaft is ready.

And that's when the arrowmaker attaches the point to the arrow...

And that's when whatever I was listening to at worship stopped. Unfortunately, I won't get to hear the end of the story but what I've heard this morning was enough to make me feel encouraged.

How many times have we felt like God's abandoned us? How many times have we felt discouraged, frustrated and in a ditch?

Maybe we're simply arrow shafts in the making.

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