The Edifier

West Allen Church of Christ

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Keeping Our Lives on Target

Pat Jones, Lufkin Texas

When I was a boy my parents gave me a bow and arrow set. This was not a top of the line hunting archery set, nor was it one of those toys with rubber suction cup arrows. Though the bow was not powerful, the arrows were sharp and quite capable of doing some damage if shot carelessly. In practicing in our yard, there was only one thing I was allowed to shoot at the target. The target gave you a spot to focus on, and indicated your accuracy. By giving you something to shoot at, it discouraged you from taking aimless shots.

I remember, however, the day an older boy from our neighborhood was showing off his far superior bow. In a very reckless impulse this guy took out an arrow aimed it at the sky and shot it out across our neighborhood. We all took off running down the street to see where it landed. We hunted until we spotted the arrow stuck in a tree next to where a man and boy working out in their front yard. When our archer friend tried to reclaim his arrow, the man refused. Instead he lectured us about how close that arrow came to hitting him and his son. I wasnít the guilty party, but his stern words made me shiver when I realized the danger of shooting an arrow without knowing where it was going.

It seems to me that many today are living their lives without a target. Iíve heard my dad quote something that applies to such folks, "Nothing worthwhile in life walks with aimless feet." When people have lost the purpose and meaning to their existence, they seem to live without taking much thought to where their lifestyles will take them.

It is amazing to me that some live for years without ever thinking seriously about where they came from, why they are here, and where are they going. Part of this aimlessness can be attributed to teaching evolution a theory which tells us man is the product of blind chance. If this life is all there is, if there is no God to hold me accountable, if there is no hope for something better eternally, then all people care about is what makes them happy today. Can anybody legitimately deny that the growing societal problems of violence, crime and immorality are the result of the aimless direction of peopleís lives?

Godís people are twice called upon to be "redeeming the time" (Eph 5:16; Col 4:5). The wise man cautions us that we should not waste our days upon the earth, but should use them well, "Whatever your hand finds to do; do it with all your might" (Eccl 9:10). Youíve heard the old saying, "If it is worth doing, it is worth doing right," but the first obligation we have is to find out what is truly worth doing. Too often our lives are being spent on the trivial while we grossly neglect the spiritual.

Fellow Christians, what will the future results be on the lives of our young people if we fail to worship regularly and live faithfully before their eyes? Said Moses of the children of Israel, "For they are a nation void of counsel, neither is there any understanding in them. O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!" (Deut 32:28-29). What will be the status of our young people before God ten years from now, if we donít teach them well today?

Paul told us the secret of his unparalleled life of dedication to the Lord. "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. But indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil 3:7-14).

The key to Paulís success was keeping his eye fixed on a target. He centered his attention on living in such a way that he could be part of the faithful whom Jesus resurrects and rewards in the last day. If you wrote the line "this one thing I do .... ", how would you finish it?