This year, my oldest son decided to try Archery. Today (and every Saturday for nearly this whole month), we traveled to a tournament. Lyzander (my oldest) is not the tallest in his class; in fact, he is on the small side and often feels inadequate because children who have a greater strength than he does often do better at physical sports. Yet we have had many victories: every week, his aim has improved. He hits the mark, and at times, gets dead center, and every week we've seen his scores improve. In many ways, as I was reflecting on this today, there is a simple truth in his improvement that reflects on our own attempts at life. A little word study before we continue: the word sin comes from an archery term in the greek, which means "to miss the mark." Archery, I've noticed, can frustrate the students on our team, and others involved in the sport, whether archers, parents, or coaches. One thing we stress to the students: if you have a bad shot, don't let it effect every other shot after it. Slow down, and improve your aim. In many ways, we do this in life: when we fall, when we sin and make mistakes, we get frustrated at ourselves, and, just like our students on the team, let that one mistake get us thrown in a funk, and so we make other mistakes. We miss the mark, and in fact, there is only one who has walked this earth who has ever hit perfect center to God's standard every time, and even He does not judge us the way in which we judge ourselves. I think of Peter when he walked on water, and then proceeded to get distracted and sank. Jesus did not chastise him, kick him out of the group, and send him on his way. Peter often stuck his foot in his mouth, and even denied Jesus when it mattered most. When, in all that time, did Jesus ever say "you're done, Pete! You're useless, get out of my sight!" No, Jesus said, and stood on this "you're Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church." On the day of Pentecost, Peter, who missed the mark often, delivered the inaugural sermon of the church, and 3,000 came to faith in Jesus Christ! When we miss the mark, God is not done with us. He doesn't warn us, or threaten to remove our place in His kingdom. No, He tells us to stop doubting, to trust Him, and to move toward Him. God's not done with you yet. Strive for the center, but don't kick yourself for not hitting perfect, or for missing completely, or for giving up. Turn your eyes, instead, to the one who hit dead center, and took the penalty for our misses. Let Jesus handle it! Fix your eyes.
Philippians 3:12-21 English Standard Version (ESV)
Straining Toward the Goal
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.