I believe God called me into worship ministry when I was in high school, but growing up in a Baptist church meant that a woman leading a congregation in worship seemed inappropriate and even silly. So I went to college and got a “real” degree, and now after quitting my “real” job to stay home with my kids, I’m right back where I wanted to be in the first place, being trained for worship ministry at my local church.
I’ve been in training now for going on three years total, first for bass and now for vocals. It’s been an incredible experience and time of growth, but it's also been loooong process. And I’m sure none of you struggle with patience, but I’ll admit that I don’t exactly excel in that area. Waiting is painful and sometimes frustrating, and it reveals more about your true character than you want it to. And it gets even harder when I see other people being propelled into ministry using their giftings, and I think that I could be, too, if I’d just gone to seminary instead of a secular university. It's in the waiting that I feel ALL the feelings! It's a good thing that my God is so patient with me, even when I'm not!
I desire so much to write songs that minister to those who are hurting, songs that uplift others, bring healing, restoration, freedom—and songs that bless the Father's heart. I long to be poured out and used by Him to reach those He loves and lead them into His presence through the vehicle of worship. But though I long to be propelled into my calling, I'm still in the waiting. So when I came across this Scripture passage posted by someone I follow on Instagram, it completely hit the mark (excuse the pun):
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. He said to me, “You are my servant, in whom I will display my splendor.” Isaiah 49:1-3
What a beautiful picture! We are arrows in His quiver, and He is crafting us and polishing us so we can be propelled into our calling to be used for His glory.
My husband is into archery, so I have learned a few things about archery equipment. I think it ties in perfectly to this passage and with what God is teaching me lately:
1. An arrow is designed to hit a target. In fact, it’s useless if it doesn’t. We were called not because we’re special or talented, but because there is work to be done. There is a target we are to reach, and that target is those who need to be saved, set free, delivered, healed. We weren’t created just to sit in the quiver.
2. The lighter the material, the faster and farther it flies. This is why my husband uses some of the most expensive carbon-core arrows you can buy, or so he tells me. Apparently the material matters. Sure, he could go buy Walmart-quality arrows, but we can forget about filling our freezer with deer meat. Don’t dismiss what the Lord is doing in your heart. He is refining you and leading you into new levels of freedom. He is dealing with your baggage so that you can be lighter and go farther. So you can be effective. The work matters too much to just use bargain-quality, cheap arrows.
3. There are several parts of an arrow, and they are all important. If the fletching is frayed, the shaft bent, the tip blunt, or the nock worn, the arrow will not fly straight or far, nor will it stick to its target. All pieces have to be in excellent working condition for the arrow to do its job. There is a process to get all the parts in that condition, and that process should not be rushed. If there is something within me that is off balance or has grown dull and worn, it's in the waiting that the Lord will refine those areas of my life, so that I can be at my best when He releases me.
4. The timing of when you are propelled into your calling depends more on the target than on you. A hunter looks to the readiness and the location of the hunted before he releases his arrow. There is strategy involved. A skilled hunter doesn't just shoot at anything that moves; he waits for that trophy buck to come into his range. And if there are any obstacles in the way—a gust of wind, a thick tree, a noise that startles the deer, then the archer will most likely miss the shot. There are people in this world that God means for you to reach, but they have to be ready to receive the message you have to offer. Sometimes, the process takes a while simply because your target is not yet in position, or there are obstacles that need to be moved out of the way. If the arrow is released too soon, the aim could be off, and the effort could be wasted.
5. There is safety in the quiver. This passage in Isaiah says that the Lord prepares us in safety, in hiding. Once an arrow is shot, it becomes vulnerable to the elements. It can become bent, broken, rusted, or lost. We will undoubtedly experience more trials and attacks from the enemy the moment we are released into ministry. We must allow ourselves to be strengthened so we can withstand the opposition we will encounter when we are doing God’s work.
6. Remember who the archer is. Here’s a hint: it’s not the arrow. It is the archer who bends back the bow and takes aim. It is He who decides when the arrow is released. The archer doesn’t explain his reasoning to the arrow. He shoots when it pleases him, when he knows the timing is right. The arrow goes only where the archer aims.
It’s also important to remember that the one shooting the arrows is the one who gets the glory. It is the Lord’s purpose that prevails, and He will receive the honor for the work that gets accomplished. It is not the arrow that is praised for the precision of that prize shot; it is the archer. The arrow is an instrument, a tool designed for the archer's purpose.
The woman who posted this Scripture on Instagram, Andrea Howey (@andrearhowey), stated:
“God is so strategic…Sometimes He hides us on purpose, keeping us safely protected from being promoted or launched out prematurely. This is His goodness to us! It’s quite possible that what feels like ‘two steps back’ is actually Him beginning to stretch back the bow so when He releases you into your destiny, you have the power of God Almighty behind you propelling you to go further and be more effective than you ever could on your own. Let’s allow Him to pull us back, straighten our aim, and correct any imbalance in our life that would cause us to wobble or veer when He sends us forth. His plans and purpose for your life will not be delayed.”
I couldn’t have said it better. May I lean in to Him, embrace the process, and trust His timing.
“I know that you can do all things; no plan or purpose of yours can be thwarted.” Job 42:2