LifeLink Devotions (Click here for Apple podcast)
Thursday, March 17, 2022
One day an elderly man was driving in the country enjoying the scenery, when he saw a young boy standing in front of a barn. Three targets had been painted on the side of the barn, and in the bull’s-eye of each target was an arrow. The man stopped his car and spoke to the obviously talented archer. “Son, how did you get so good at shooting?” The boy replied, “Well, I take each arrow, lick my fingers and straighten the feathers like this. Then I pull the bowstring back to an exact spot on my cheek and let go. Then wherever the arrow lands I paint a target.”
That’s exactly how many of us live our spiritual lives. We have replaced the True Target with man-made ones so that we can consider ourselves spiritually successful. We satisfy ourselves by painting our own targets at the end of the day, rather than looking at the True Target at the start of the day. We are convinced that it is much safer and more fulfilling to let the flesh have its way throughout the day, and then at appointed times, like on Sunday at church or at night when we go to bed, to reflect on any small spiritual moment we had and paint a big bull’s-eye around that and call ourselves imitators of God (Eph. 5:1). In reality we are only imitators of the flesh, creating false spiritual targets that do nothing more than perpetuate the flesh rather than crucify it.
There is only one True Target, and it has already been painted on our lives. It is the life of Jesus Christ. There is no need for us to paint additional targets. I admit that it’s a tough target to hit, and that in this life none of us will ever hit the bull’s-eye every time. That may be discouraging. It may seem that having targets easier to hit will bring more satisfaction to life. But this is a deception of the one who holds the can of paint and the brush. He has always tried to paint a different target – a target that appeals to the flesh and offers the false hope of fulfillment. Satan painted alternative targets for Adam and Eve that appealed to their fleshly sense of self-fulfillment. His targets make us feel good about who we are and keep our attention focused on the image we want to have for ourselves. Every morning when we wake up, our spiritual enemy offers us the opportunity to paint targets on our life’s calendar of events, and each of those targets keeps us from aiming at the True Target. Each freshly painted target serves to satisfy our flesh, and when the flesh is satisfied there is no need for God. If we aim at Satan’s targets, then we make God unnecessary and irrelevant. We become our own god.
For me, the best illustration of this principle is the game of golf. Every hole on a golf course has a target, marked by a flag. It is the goal of every golfer to get the ball into the hole. Because of man’s need to measure himself against others, we have decided that we should count how many strokes it takes to get the ball into the hole, and then offer a reward to the one who does it in the fewest strokes. I have been a victim of that competitive philosophy all my life. Our image gets so wrapped up in our performance that some will even cheat to enhance their image. Rules are set aside for the sake of “having fun,” when the truth is they only want to feel better about themselves by keeping their score down. How did their personal worth get wrapped up in the score? If only we could be like little children at a miniature golf course. They don’t care about the score. They can’t even count that high. All they care about his hitting the target, no matter how many times they try.
God is not keeping score. He does not compare your life to anyone else’s life and offer rewards only to the one who hits the True Target in the least number of attempts. There will be some holes on the course of life that will be easier than others. Some of us will score well on one hole, while others will score well on another. But when we all meet in the clubhouse after our round is over, we will all be greeted by the same words from the Course Designer – “Well done. You finished the course. Here is your crown of righteousness.” No one will compare scores. Everyone will enjoy the thrill of hitting the target.
“Jesus, you are the True Target. I want to imitate you in every area of my life. I confess I have painted some targets to please my flesh and have changed some rules to justify it. I confess I have compared myself to others to better my image in my own eyes. I confess my need to refocus on You as the One True Target. Thank you for your forgiveness, and for the grace you will grant to imitate you.”