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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Graber

Strike Your Arrows

As graduation days draw near, graduation cards are coming out containing poems from dead bards. "If" by Rudyard Kipling and "Success" by Ralph Waldo Emerson are two I see frequently and among my favorites. Beyond these, popular speakers saying profound things pop up on social media reels and YouTube channels. Still, these are not my favorite inspirations; my favorite for several years has been Elisha's motivating "strike your arrows" metaphor.

See, Elisha was dying. Jehoash, the king of Israel at the time, went to Elisha. Elisha tells Jehoash to shoot an arrow at Jehoash's enemy. Jehoash shoots the arrow and defeats the enemy. Then, Elisha tells Jehoash, “Take the arrows.” Jehoash took the arrows. Then Elisha said to him, “Hit on the ground” (2 Kings 13:18). Jehoash strikes 3 arrows into the ground. I can just imagine Jehoash thinking 3 arrows are good enough.

I am a teacher, and sometimes my students think they need to do "good enough." Good enough might mean doing just what is required to earn a passing score or not putting in any more effort than necessary when the grade reaches a passing score. Everyone's tired at the end of the semester. Teachers are cheering students on with "Finish strong!" and "You got this!" or "You can do it!" All the while, we are sweating wondering if students are going to strike their arrows or give up victory for "good enough" now that the finish line is in sight.

Now, if you don't know this story you might be wondering how many arrows Jehoash had or thinking striking the arrows 3 times is fine. The story doesn't tell us how many arrows were available, but we learn that Jehoash doesn't strike them all. I think Elisha must've been feeling very much like a fan watching a race where the leader is at the front of all of the other runners but stops running and starts walking as soon as they see the finish line. "I'll make it across. Finishing is good enough." But that's not how the Lord thinks; God is the God of more than enough, of winning battles, of extravagant blessings. God wants us to pursue His blessings. When Jehoash stops striking after 3 arrows, his "Good enough" threshold, Elisha loses his temper: “You should have hit five or six times!"

Facing the future can often be a time of uncertainty. The story doesn't tell us about how Jehoash felt other than his grief and longing for Elisha. Despite being on his deathbed, Elisha continues to guide and mentor Jehoash toward Jehoash's destiny. Yet, Jehoash seems hesitant. Does he not think he is worthy? Does Jehoash not trust God? None of us are worthy, but we should still strike our arrows and be willing to receive what God has prepared for us. We should trust God's plan for us! That's called faith.

Graduates, as you prepare for the big day with the unknown future spread before you, strike your arrows until your quiver is empty. Each arrow represented a victory for Jehoash. Yet, for each arrow he didn't strike, Jehoash lost a battle. Strike your arrows. See what good things God has in store for your victorious future!

Wherever you are in your walk with God, remember that Jesus already won the battle over death. Each day might not be perfect. God doesn't promise life will be easy every day, but God does promise beauty for ashes. Don't settle for good enough; aim for everything God has planned for your good! Strike your arrows until the quiver is empty. Then, declare, "God is good."

Praying blessings over you, graduates!



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