He made me into a polished arrow; in his quiver he hid me away. Isa 49:2
There are times in our lives when we feel like we’re in the middle of the will of God and serving at optimum effectiveness and capacity. There are also times when, quite frankly, we feel we’ve been put on the shelf. At times like this all our attempts to engage in effective ministry seem to come to naught. Yet I am reminded of stories in scripture where the truth of Isaiah 49:2 has been demonstrated time and again.
I have to think of Moses who spent 40 years in the wilderness being polished and hearing from God through the burning bush. Jacob spent 20 years serving Laban having his wages changed 10 times. David, after being anointed as king of Israel, spent a season fleeing for his life. Christ Himself, after His baptism, was sent into the wilderness for 40 days before emerging ready for ministry.
We are all going to go through seasons of feeling ineffective. It is during these times that we must stay focused on God and His work in our lives. After all He is about transforming our hearts and minds (Rom 12:1-2). This is not about how much He needs us to do His work. Know this: God’s purposes will be accomplished with or without us. He does have a purpose and work that He has prepared in advance for us to do (Eph 2:10), but experience and the evidence of scripture tell me that there is a time for Him to prepare us (polish us as an arrow) for that work.
Once we have been polished, He puts us in His quiver to be put to the bow at just the right time. In Galatians 6:9, God challenges us, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” Paul told Timothy in his second letter, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Ti 4:7) With all that Paul endured (2 Cor 11:23-27), keeping the faith was no small feat. He kept on keeping on, he pressed on toward the goal no matter his circumstances.
When you’re feeling ineffective or blocked in your work and ministry, think about how you’re being polished (easier said than done), and keep on keeping on. Have full confidence that He who began a good work in you will stay with you until that work is completed. Whatever is going on with your life and ministry make the most of every opportunity to allow the love of Jesus flow through you. God has you in His quiver and wants you to use His polishing work for the good of your family, your co-worker, and that person who needs to feel the hand of God in his life.