The third element to living your Life as an Arrow that hits, rather than falls short of, your target is Peace.
Why would Peace matter to your life?
Let’s go back to the archer analogy:
If you have great aim (Purpose), and you’re pulling your arrow as far back as possible (Power)…
...yet the ground beneath you is shaking, your mind is cluttered and chaotic, and you feel attacked by those closest to you, you could still miss your target.
Peace means having sure footing, clarity of mind, and calmness at heart.
Have you every tried to just get an errand done, or to complete something important at work, while you have a huge worry or conflict hanging over you?
Were you able to truly “work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters”? (Col 3:23)
If you’re like me, trying to create, complete, or connect while your life is troubled, in turmoil, or tormented is nearly impossible!
In a similar way, peace matters when it comes to hitting the target.
But there’s a huge pitfall when it comes to seeking peace.
Many people often preach a “new age” kind of peace through God. They may even Christianize it with the world “shalom” — which is a Hebrew word translated as peace and harmony — as a vague, superset of peace.
This kind of teaching tickles the ears and preys on human desires by inspiring images of sipping drinks with umbrellas by the beach; meditation in a zen-inspired spa; or even amorphous, vague hyper-spiritualization — all while missing the foundation of true peace through Christ.
The promise of peace may be the same between the two approaches: freedom from anxiety, worries, mistrust, and confusion.
Achieving this freedom may also release you from the feeble attempts to get there: addictions, workaholism, and damaging relationships.
But in order to seek the kind of peace that truly matters, we need to understand the right peace to seek.
To understand the kind of peace we seek, however, we need to recognize what life is without it.
It’s not the surface symptoms we talked about, however. Life without that true peace is much more than that.
The opposite of peace is war
Specifically, without true peace that can only come through Christ, are at war with God (emphasis added):
For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (Romans 5:10)
In fact, our very nature is to be at war with God (emphasis added):
The sinful mind is at war with God. It does not obey God's law. It can't. (Romans 8:7)
This war between our sinful nature and God causes the underlying distress that we often escapes our awareness. Our deep and hidden shame, our inborn hatred of what's good and holy, our rebellion against a loving God — all unleash turbulence within our soul.
To end the war, what do we need?
We need a peacemaker.
Christ’s role as a peacemaker — mediating the war between us and God — is illustrated in how he brokered a peace between Jews and Gentiles (emphasis added):
For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has torn down the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing in His flesh the law of commandments and decrees. He did this to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace and reconciling both of them to God in one body through the cross, by which He extinguished their hostility.
He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. (Ephesians 2:14-17)
While this passage describes how Christ harmonized Jews with Gentiles, it can describe the mended relationship between you and God.
So now that you can see how the source of peace is ending the war with God through Christ, how does that become a tangible benefit for you?
Here are three distinctions to help you:
Distracted vs Deep
Listen to the words describing how a desperate man cries out to God:
Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me. (Psalm 42:7)
Could that verse have also read “the shallow calls to deep”?
Or “the distracted calls out to deep”?
No, it couldn’t have.
In this verse, the writer, fully seeing the depth of his helplessness and depravity, calls out to God’s deep comfort and protection.
We need to be willing to go deep into our own sin and hurt to truly experience God’s depths.
But if you live a distracted life, you cannot bring these broken pieces to God and allow His grace to wash those away.
If you do take this step to be less distracted in order to plumb your own depths, there are two distinctions that can be revealed which can give you greater peace.
Resentment vs Restoration
The first is Resentment vs Restoration.
The worldly pattern is to hold onto, use it, or bury your resentment.
But unresolved resentment, no matter how buried within your soul, will corrode true peace and separate you from God.
Resentment is the poison you take hoping someone else will die. Its dangers are clear:
Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. (Hebrew 12:5)
If you are so blessed to have never been touched by resentment, amen!
But if you experience this, either in the present or from far in the past, exploring this distinction is an important step towards experiencing peace.
However, even those who have no resentment or conflict with others may still have much to gain from this third distinction:
Regret vs Redemption
The last area to bolster God's Presence is to move from Regret to Redemption.
No one can escape regrets. It's how we handle those regrets that makes the difference:
For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. (2 Corinthians 7:10)
The redemption that comes from a Godly sorrow is one that saves you from the death of worldly sorrow.
But knowing the difference, and, more importantly, being able to move forward and redeem your regrets, is a journey that makes such a deep and lasting change: “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.” (Phil 3:13)
Your Next Steps
I’m going to break the analogy for a second here: imagine your life is already an arrow in flight.
But unlike an arrow where, once released from the bow, its destination is set in stone.
Instead, think of your life’s arrow as having a little GPS that can make corrections along its flight path: a little to the left, a little to the right, a little more power here, a steadier hand there.
Those course corrections come from making clear, crisp, and continuous distinctions throughout your life.
In the end, where we end up in your life is the sum of these decisions.
Often, we think it’s only the big decisions which matter. And they still do. We need to make the hard calls with wisdom and conviction.
But when Moses says to Israel, “Today I am giving you a choice. You can choose life and success or death and disaster,” (Deuteronomy 30:15) — it isn’t just a one-time, dramatic call.
He’s also telling the Jews to live in a way that makes those choices.
He emphasizes, “Choose life!”
While the big decision is to choose an eternal life through Christ, it includes all the on-going course corrections, the distinctions, that help you to live life as an arrow.
If you need purpose, maybe it’s making a decision between being busy and building.
If you are in need of power, maybe it’s choosing between being haughty versus being humble, in a specific relationship.
If you need peace, maybe it’s taking a step from distraction to going deep.
This will change depending upon the season you are in.
But the first step is to start living in a way where you know what these course corrections are and in a community where you can make.
Join the Life as an Arrow community to find start your journey soon.