How will you use your arrows

I know this may come as a surprise, but most people who know me, know that archery is one of my favorite ways to relax (that’s me and my mom in the photo for today’s blog post!). 

I’m actually pretty decent at it. It takes a lot of patience, concentration and aim, but it’s all worth it when you hit the bullseye. It’s been a minute since I’ve been to the Archery range, so needless to say when I came across the story of Joash in 2 Kings 13 it got me thinking about the game in a totally different light.

Joash was the King of Israel and he came to Elisha for help to deliver Israel from the Syrians. Although Joash problem was physical “people were trying to destroy his nation”, yet he could only solve it by spiritual means. Hence, why Joash went to the prophet for help.

To help Joash defeat his enemy, Elisha took Joash through a process to demonstrate obedience. Elisha told Joash to take a bow and the arrows. Joash put his hand on the bow and Elisha placed his hands on top of Joash’s hand and. Elisha told Joash to open the East window and to shoot one of the arrows into the air.  

This obedience process was conditioning Joash to face his enemy. Since Joash was obedient in this endeavor, Elisha then said, “The arrow of the Lord’s deliverance and the arrow of deliverance from Syria; for you must strike the Syrians at Aphek till you have destroyed them,” confirming that Joash’s obedience will ensure his victory.

In order to defeat the Syrians, Elisha then instructed Joash to take the rest of the arrows and to strike the ground. Joash only struck the ground 3 times and then he stopped. Elisha got angry because Joash should have at least struck the ground 5 or 6 times, so Joash could have completely destroyed Syria.

However, because Joash only struck the ground 3 times, he would only be guaranteed to defeat the Syrians 3 times.  This leads me to my situation.

How many of us have been in Joash’s shoes? For whatever reason (overconfident, fearful or whatever) we give up and quit in the midst of our crisis.

The real reason why many of us give up and quit is that we fail to realize that in order to resolve a physical problem you have to view it from a spiritual perspective.

I’ve felt like Joash so many times in my life. During my crises, I wanted to hurry up and get through it, which made me rush through the situation and half-heartedly obey God’s instructions. In doing so, I made my situation worse. I thought that God would just bless my half-hearted endeavors. I can’t get over how foolish that was on my part. Especially since in reality, I had chosen not to face my problem.

God specifically asked for Joash to open the East window because that’s where the army was located. God wants us to face our problems head on, not run from them. Many times when we try to resolve our issue, we choose the path of least resistance and end up hurting ourselves even worse.

Our approach in fixing our problem is often using a band-aid. As you know this can fall off at any time. However, if we go to God first, He gives us all the tools to completely heal the wound (aka our problem).

God blessed us with the tools we already have (our gifts and talents). We just needed God to bless our tools.  We do this by praying and asking God to intervene or help us in our endeavors.

This is precisely why Elisha placed his hands on top of Joash’s hands when he asked Joash to take the bow. Whatever battle we are fighting, God will take our tools (our gifts and talents) and cause them to work in an extraordinary way to deliver us out of the situation that was causing us harm and pain.

God knows that Satan will do whatever it takes to wear us down. This is why God always wants us to go to Him first so He can guide us in how we can win our battle. If we learn the concept to seek God’s guidance and solution first, our battle is already won even though it may not be over yet.

However, in order to ensure victory, we must follow God’s instructions all the way. Joash was well on his way to completely defeating the Syrians. Yet, because he only struck the ground 3 times instead of using all of his arrows, he was only guaranteed to defeat the Syrians 3 times.

How many of us are wandering around wondering why we keep encountering the same exact problems year after year? Could it be that you, like me, are half heartedly fighting your battles? Due to my half-hearted fighting, my enemies kept getting back up to do further harm to me. I made the matter worse by not completely obeying God. If you truly desire to live the Christian life you can’t half-heartedly listen to God’s instructions.

Here’s a perfect example. Last year, I was unemployed for almost a year. It was incredibly frustrating. I didn’t see an end in sight. I had my degree, plenty of experience, I even gained another certificate thinking this would help my quest to make ends meet. I was like Joash. Nothing that I did worked.

I was trying to fix my situations with a bow and arrow that God hadn’t blessed. I didn’t see a change in my situation until I went to God. I was trying so hard to fix a physical problem with a physical solution.

I finally realized that even though my problem was physical, I needed a spiritual intervention from God. I had no idea what, when and how to fix my situation. This is how you know that your problem requires a spiritual answer.

The way that I was finally able to resolve my situation went like this:

  1. I went to God in prayer
    1. First I repented for not including Him in my life the way I should.
    2. I outlined my problem and asked God to show me what I needed to do.
    3. Then, I left everything alone.
  2. I started to go to bed on time so that I could get some rest. I know this seems counterintuitive when you’re looking for a job, but after filling out over 400 job applications you earned it. God clearly knows you’re trying.
  3. Through my faithful prayer and appealing to God based on His word, God showed me how to face and address my problems.

I kid you not after I had that long heart to heart with God, the tools (gifts and talents) He used to help me through my unemployment situation were things I had already been doing in my spare time.

Just remember that in your crisis God is there for you. He will not do the work for you. He will guide you out of the situation by telling you what to do, when to do it, etc. God will help us shoot our arrows but He will not shoot them for us. Facing and fighting our problems is our responsibility.

In order to free ourselves from our enemy, we must not give up and quit.

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