Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. Psalm 127:3-4
Some years ago, I read a book by Stu Weber (at least I remember it being Stu who wrote about this – someone please correct me if I’m off base) in which he made a wonderful analogy, comparing the raising of kids to the work of an archer.
The archer goes into the woods and selects the straightest, sturdiest branch that he can find to form the shaft of his arrow.
He takes that branch into his workshop, where he spends many hours carving and planing, making the shaft as true as possible. He affixes the broadhead, setting it precisely in place. He places the feathers on the tail end, making sure that they are properly aligned.
After all this, he inspects the arrow to make sure that he has done his very best before he places it in his quiver.
But the quiver is not where arrows are meant to stay – arrows are meant to fly. Their potential can never be realized while sitting in the quiver. It’s simply not in their nature to sit still.
So the archer takes the arrow from his quiver and strings it in his bow. He draws back the string, aims very carefully and then … releases the arrow.
This is when the archer finds out how well he did his job in making the arrow. Because, once it leaves the bow, the archer has no control whatsoever over its path.
Now, all the work that he did in preparing the arrow is critical. If the shaft is crooked, or if the tail feathers are not straight, the arrow may immediately fly off course. If the various pieces are not firmly assembled, the whole thing may fly apart.
But once in flight, it’s too late to correct any deficiencies in the arrow.
And even the straightest arrow won’t hit the target if improperly aimed. Start it off in the wrong direction, and it’s almost certain not to hit the target.
Even if aimed corrected, the arrow could strike a tree branch or other unexpected object and glance off.
Or, the wind could blow unexpectedly hard across the path of the arrow and push it off course.
Or, the arrow could fly precisely along the path and strike its target dead-on – which is the archer’s highest hope.
I write this because I launched my first arrow last week, when my oldest child started college. Now is the time when I’ll find out if I spent enough time in the workshop. Now is when I’ll find out how true my aim is. Now I can only watch the path.
My prayer, my highest hope, is that her Mom and I have done our jobs sufficiently well in preparing her and launching her into the world. I’ll pray that the Winds of Life won’t blow too hard on her. I’ll pray that unexpected things won’t arise. I’ll pray that her faith won’t be stripped away by the world.
But most of all, I’ll trust God Almighty, who lives in her heart, to guide her flight.