“I shoot an arrow into the air. Where it lands I do not care; I get my arrows wholesale.” Jerome “Curly” Howard.

Like Curly’s arrows, our life plans never go as planned. We define our goals, and define actions for the best way to reach our goals. When we finally arrive, it’s usually not where we planned to go or how we planned to get there. We take a lot of detours. This has been my experience anyway.

I think the flight of an arrow is an apt description for life planning. There are many factors influencing the arrow’s flight path. In short, when the arrow is released, the long straight portion (the shaft), does some pretty interesting things. During flight, the shaft flexes side to side. Whichever direction it flexes, that movement is strongest when the archer first releases the arrow. As the arrow approaches the target, this flexing movement decreases and flight stabilizes.

In life, we often start out strong with good momentum but quickly start flexing side to side. This happens as we begin to question the path, encounter obstacles or just become flight weary. After various iterations of course correction, our flight path stabilizes and we reach the end of the flight. Some of us reach the target, and some never reach our goal—much like the arrow aimed at a target it never reaches. Somewhere along the flight path, we destabilize and go off course. We never regain the necessary momentum to correct our flight, and we end up in the weeds. Thankfully, we (unlike the arrow) have the ability to get out of the weeds, correct course, regain momentum, and hit a bullseye.

Thinking back over my life—with the plans I made, and the actions I took to accomplish those plans—I never reached my original target. Never. If I’m being completely honest, the same holds true today. Why? Because as those plans were made and during execution, I committed them to the Lord. I invited him to direct the flight path. And he did. But he never asked permission to redirect the course. I didn’t get to approve the changes. I just had to respond to them. Many times my response wasn’t the right one. Hence, further corrective action.

I am Yahweh, and there is no other;
there is no God but Me.
I will strengthen you, though you do not know Me,
so that all may know from the rising of the sun to its setting that there is no one but Me.
I am Yahweh, and there is no other.
I form light and create darkness,
I make success and create disaster;
I, Yahweh, do all these things. Isaiah‬ ‭45:5-7‬ ‭HCSB‬

After all these years, I find I’m still an archer-in-training. I’ve hit a few bullseyes. Sometimes I’ve just barely reached the target. And yet, still in other situations I have completely missed the target. I am talking epic fail. However, I know the end result is just what he planned. Not only that, I also know the flight itself was his plan. I know this because, he knows my heart and motives when I make my plans. Since I invited him into the process; when that flight segment didn’t go according to his will, he used the results of my actions to correct my course. All this, to reach his ultimate goal; bring glory to himself, and draw me closer to the likeness of Christ. Unfortunately, it’s not the bullseyes in which I become more like Christ, it’s been those darn misses.

However disappointing those redirects might initially be, I am finding they bring me to a much deeper insight of who he is, who I am, and how he created me for his plan. The defining lesson for me has been this: As long as I am willing, and take action, he will set my path. It just might not be to my original target. And I need to be okay with that.

Woe to the one who argues with his Maker—
one clay pot among many.
Does clay say to the one forming it,
‘What are you making?’
Or does your work say,
‘He has no hands’?
How absurd is the one who says to his father,
‘What are you fathering?’
or to his mother,
‘What are you giving birth to?’”
This is what the Lord,
the Holy One of Israel and its Maker, says:
“Ask Me what is to happen to My sons,
and instruct Me about the work of My hands.
I made the earth,
and created man on it.
It was My hands that stretched out the heavens,
and I commanded all their host. Isaiah 45:9-12 HCSB

Where are you on the flight path? Have you just started with great momentum? Wobbling in the middle? Are you straightening out as you head towards the target? Or have you fallen in the weeds? No matter where you are along the arc, you can invite God to direct your path. His desires for us don’t always match ours, but we all know his plans are the best in the long term. Placing your trust in him won’t remove the wobbles or weed patches from your path, but it will ensure that you achieve your ultimate target: a life that is pleasing to God.

Have you experienced a time when God directed your flight path to a very different target than you had initially planned? How did it work out?

Colleene Isaacs

Colleene Isaacs is a consultant for early stage start-ups, focusing on small to mid-size NGOs in a variety of industries. She loves to engage with old friends and new over a great cup of coffee discussing weighty issues that plague the world, our culture and our faith.

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