A friend of mine recently got beautiful arrow tattoos on her wrist representative of her family and her walk with God at the center. She shared that “the purpose of an arrow is to be propelled forward, however in order to do that effectively, there has to be tension. Backwards is ultimately what moves the arrow forward.” She said when she feels tension, like she’s being pulled at, to remember it’s part of the process God intends to take her through, so He can use her to her fullest. And even in the middle of her tension, it is breath-taking to see how she is letting God pull at her – uncomfortable as it is- aiming her confidently in the direction she was created for. This friend, as she soars, I’m confident will move mountains for Him.
It got me thinking about how my arrow gets distracted during times of tension. Where is my focus? The Sunday School answer, of course, is Jesus. Yes, lollipop for the little girl in front. Yes, Jesus is the target.
But I’ll be honest, at times it’s not. Ya know what I’m saying?
Here’s the deal friends. I know most of us wake ready for what God has in store. I bet the majority of us would agree that our longing is to focus on Jesus in the big and small parts of today. So why is it so hard to maintain this focus? To keep Jesus as the bullseye when trials and sorrows strain?
When we focus on Jesus, He heals and transforms. He offers love and peace and joy and forgiveness- intangible things we can not create on our own. Focusing on Him takes our eyes off ourselves and reminds us of what is true and unchanging and eternal.
But wouldn’t you know it. When the pulling of tension occurs, my eyes shift ever so slightly and land on another bullseye. Suddenly my focus is off Jesus and on bold, target letters: BEHIND. I’m behind. Behind in my career, spiritual life, in home ownership. Now every thought is aimed in the direction that I am ever-so BEHIND.
More straining as the arrow is tugged and I get sidetracked by yet another glittering target. In whimsy script, the target circle reads BEKAH. Now I’m the focus. And my arrow shoots straight at the bullseye, as I proceed to live out the day for me. How I feel. What I want. What elevates me. My family. My concerns. My. My. Me. Me. Where is the peace and freedom? Certainly not in focusing on myself.
Further down the journey and the arrow is taught with tension, aimed straight at Jesus, but oh, the confusion. How easily the focus can dart to uncomfortable circumstances. I scan the horizon and a new warped bullseye screams in all caps: CRITICAL. Fzzzzsstt. Flies the arrow. Straight into the center. And now love is forgotten and I see each detail through a muddy, critical perspective. It twists reality and feeds jealousy. This CRITICAL focus rots of sewage and pain.
One arrow and a myriad of distracting targets.
Where is your arrow aimed today?
John 16:33 speaks of it almost humorously. About the “trials and sorrows you will have.” Yet “take heart.” Jesus has “overcome the world.”
This truth helps me rest easy. It reminds me to keep my arrow focused on Jesus and not get distracted when the pulling, straining, and uncomfortable process of tension surrounds. These symptoms can become the focus, when really, they are necessary steps to prepare us for what God is doing inside. Trials and sorrows are legitimate focuses to aim at, but they don’t need all our attention. It’s almost refreshing to remember that crap.will.happen but God wins in the end. He wins. He overcomes. And we simply get to walk with Him, into each and every detail of today, with Jesus as our focus.
When Jesus is my focus, I am not behind, but exactly where He wants me. Surrounded by the people He has placed in my path, as well as those whose paths He’s placed me in. Regardless of opportunities or rejections, all He asks is for me to be present with His presence today.
When Jesus is my focus, it’s not about what I can do, or have to do, or should do, but about being who He created me to be, and authentically living from that space.
When Jesus is my focus, I celebrate other people constantly because I’m not critical, jealous, afraid, or threatened. And when I celebrate others, I have no room to criticize them. When I celebrate others’ giftings or passions or positions, in essence, I’m celebrating God’s glory reflected in His children.
When we focus on Jesus, our aim is steadfast. It’s just as Philippians 4:8 says: “True, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.”
Imagine if we aimed our arrows into those thoughts today.