"not because of who i am,
but because of what You've done.
not because of what i've done,
but because of who You are..."
Casting Crowns' "Who am I" found its way to the top of my mental playlist this morning.
Here's how it started. I was reading this Scripture from Jeremiah 31:3:
The Lord had appeared of old unto
saying, "Yea, I have loved thee
with an everlasting love,
therefore with loving kindness
have I drawn thee..."
Now, I've long loved this particular Scripture for its use of the word "drawn."
As a child I imagined God with a box of crayons, drawing a picture of me. With a chimney-topped house and lollipop trees in the background. A bright yellow sun overhead. God was designing me -- and my life.
Then, some years ago that image shifted. I would read the passage and think of God as turning on the tap. Like drawing a bath. Drawing, from the infinite well of His infinite resources -- whatever He needed me to be. I was not coming into the demands of any given moment with a set of skills, gifts, or talents that are personally circumscribed - but with an open willing heart. And from the spigot of that willingness, God was drawing forth whatever was needed in service to Him -- and his creation.
About a year ago, this same passage unfolded on the page in a new way. It was as if I could feel God reaching out and drawing me into the close circle of his arms. I felt gathered in. I felt firmly held in a place, where -- instead of being overwhelmed by the pulsing uncertainty of the world -- I could only hear the beating of His heart.
But then, earlier this week, as I was reading this oh-so-familiar passage, a different image crossed my heart. It was of an archer drawing his arrow. It, quite literally, stopped me in my tracks. Now, I am not an archer. I don't have much experience with archery -- other than the fact that my husband teaches it at camp, and I read "Zen and the Art of Archery" many years ago.
But as that image came into focus, so did the spiritual implications of being the arrow that God is drawing.
An archer draws his arrow with intention. He takes aim. I actually felt that God was aiming me with a precise outcome -- or purpose -- in Mind. I could trust his aim. It moved me very deeply.
Although I had been feeling - since the girls left for college - a clear sense of my work, I had also been feeling a bit aimless when it came to any interests outside of the office. I thought of myself as the person who used to spend all of her discretionary time following her daughters' interests in soccer, school, camp, Polocrosse, Cowboy Mounted Shooting, etc.
I loved to knit, but I'd knitted items for everyone I knew and had become "that woman" who knitted, and then unraveled her knitting, just to save money on yarn -- since I couldn't think of anyone who wanted another scarf, skirt, or hat.
I loved to bake, but without the girls here to eat or share what I baked, it just sat there. I loved to write, but after 750 of these posts, I wondered if I was just speaking to myself. And anyway, I had begun to realize that if I couldn't communicate a concept in five short lines of poetry, I should probably sit with it a bit longer.
I have always known that a sustainable life is one that is Love-impelled. It is why I do the work that I do. I have no desire to ever retire. I love it so much. And this is good, because it is what I do all day, every day - it just brings me so much joy. But what else should I be doing? I kept thinking I had to find something to do with my discretionary time.
The image of an archer shifted all of that. It wasn't up to me to figure anything out. I could trust that in every moment of every day the Archer was drawing me with perfect, precise aim. I would hit my target, not because I had decided to "follow my heart," but because I was an arrow in His quiver. Drawn for a purpose. Never a randomly flung arrow. But drawn from the Archers bow.
In talking about this image with our Sunday School class one morning, another insight was shared. When an archer draws His bow back, it allows for a pause, and gives perspective to his aim. I could trust that when I was drawn back - by divine Love -- into recalling a past experience, insight, or lesson learned, it was with divine intention. It was never without a precise purpose. Again, there was no random or reckless flinging of arrows by the divine Archer.
Suddenly a definition of "sin," -- that I'd never fully gotten behind -- made a bit more sense. I'd always felt perplexed when someone shared that "sin" was defined as "missing the mark." Perhaps it was because my own favorite etymological definition of sin was "to sunder, or to separate."
I didn't like the "missing the mark" definition because it ratified the false (for me) view of man as self-determined, self-aimed. A mortal who could "go rogue," -- who could separate himself from an all-powerful, all-knowing God and make mistakes, bad choices, and wrong decisions.
But this view of God as the Archer changed that for me. Mary Baker Eddy states in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures that:
"The belief in sin is punished,
so long as the belief lasts..."
And elsewhere she writes:
alias rising above corporeal personality,
is what reforms the sinner and destroys sin."
I am not the archer. We are not the archers of our own lives. We cannot miss the mark, because we were never given an arrow -- we are the arrows. We are what God is drawing into precise purpose. We are what He has given accurate focus to. We can't help but hit His mark.
And I have to remember, that when it feels as if life events are dragging me backwards, an arrow can only be shot forward by pulling it backwards. Sometimes we have the opportunity of revisiting something we've outgrown, in order to more thoroughly glean the full weight of the lessons learned. Then we are launched forward with even greater precision and aim.
I don't have to decide to be -- or do -- anything. I just need to be a ready arrow in the Archer's quiver. Divine Love will draw me with perfect accuracy. The peace that this has given me is deep and satisfying.
In her poem, "Satisfied," Eddy assures us:
"It matters not,
what be Thy lot,
so Love doth guide..."
In the hands of the Archer, I am guided each moment towards the mark for which I am intended. I am drawn for a holy purpose. And He never misses. Whether the target is college, a new hobby, job, community, or relationship, we are perfect arrows in Love's quiver.
offered with Love,