Sports like archery can teach us a lot about life as a Christian. Really, anything can, if we only have eyes to see and ears to hear.
During a recent flight to San Antonio I was reading Marshall Hodgson’s classic The Venture of Islam (V1) and considering the spread of Islam in the world. I pondered the Muslim Arab victories over the Byzantines at Yarmuk (636 AD) and the Sasanids at Qadisiyah (637 AD), and the Muslim Berber victory over the Visigoths at Guadalete (712 AD). Many factors contributed to the success of The Faithful, and one of the greatest was their use of archery.
Just as something as simple and powerful as the bow and arrow can transform the political and religious world, it can also inform the Christian life. The purpose of the bow is to propel an arrow accurately and swiftly into a target, whether a hay bale, a deer, or a man. There are several steps to do this effectively:
Want to shoot like Robin Hood? Here are some tips to get you started.
Archery is a fine, fun and relaxing sport. During our courtship, Nancy and I would spend hours at the outdoor range just shooting, talking, and enjoying the sights and sounds of nature around. She would pack a lunch and the days were delightful. I highly recommend picnics at the range rather than expensive restaurant lunches and movies during which no one talks to really get to know a person.
For those interested in learning the basics of archery, here they are.
Jonah 1; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25; Acts 27; Hebrews 6:19‑20
Few things are more terrifying than to be tossed helplessly in a raging storm at sea. Capsizing, running aground, being washed overboard, and breaking up, all often fatal, are only a few of the dangers. The crew’s best hope is to jettison cargo, find a sheltered place (if possible) and anchor firmly.
In antiquity from Polynesia to the Mediterranean, anchors were often grooved or pierced stones. By the first century A.D., Romans were using anchors with arms and flukes (similar to the traditional and more recent kedge anchor). The arms allowed the anchor to dig deeply into the gravel and mud on the bottom of the Sea of Galilee, or into the lime, clay, sand and mud on the Mediterranean floor. A properly set anchor cannot quiet the storm, but it can bring the ship and its crew safely through.
The disciples, many who were experienced fishermen, likely had many stories of life threatening tempests. The Apostle Paul endured storms and even shipwreck. In every case, the Lord protected them, whether on the Sea of Galilee or in the Mediterranean off the coast of Malta. Better than any anchor, Jesus calmed the sea, and brought them through the storm.
How fitting, then, that this Christmas anchor is shaped like a cross. Even as Jesus brought His people through disaster on the water, so He brings us through disasters in our lives. Crime, sickness, injustice, and pain are inevitable on our earthly journey. Our hearts break as parents die, children disobey, jobs are lost and health is shattered. Our strength fades when loved ones betray, dreams are crushed, wealth fails, and our bodies wither. Like a sailor’s, our best hope is to jettison the distractions in our lives, find a sheltered place in His word, and anchor in His love. Sometimes the Lord “calms the sea” by taking the situation away. If He does not, though, He always brings us through.
Even through the ultimate and eternal storm, that of sin and death, Jesus, by His death on the cross and resurrection, has delivered those who love Him.
As we put our hope in Christ, we study and obey His word. As we learn his word and speak to Him in prayer, He builds our faith and makes us better able to trust Him (Rom 10:17). We know that Jesus will be faithful to His promises and work His perfect will in our lives.
While contemplating the symbolism of the anchor-cross with our loved ones this Christmas season, let us resolve to remember Christ each time we see an anchor, or a storm. Jesus is, truly, the anchor for our souls.
O Come all Ye Faithful
O come, all ye faithful, Joyful and triumphant; O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem. Come and behold Him, Born the King of Angels! O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.
Sing, choirs of angels, Sing in exultation; O sing, all ye citizens of heaven above. Glory to God, all glory in the highest! O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.
Hail! Lord, we greet Thee, Born this happy morning; Jesus to Thee be all glory giv’n. Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing! O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.