ArcherAlong time ago, there lived a man who excelled at archery. Not only was he talented in this area, but he enjoyed it as well. He spent years becoming the best at what he did. His services were in great demand by both king and noble. Life was good, for he was able to take care of his family, and he had the respect of his employers, and those of his town.

The archer was a kind man, and the poor sought him out in the hopes that he would help them learn to shoot a bow. His natural compassion made it impossible to turn them away, so wherever he went he taught whomever wanted to learn. But his work with the poor was only a small part of his busy days serving those who hired him for his services.

Eventually, he grew old and had to face the fact that he would not last much longer. His life was nearing its end, and he began to reflect on what he had accomplished. After reviewing the rewards the wealthy had bestowed upon him, he began to feel empty inside. Surely he had done more with his life than just make his employers happy. This thought began to weigh heavily on him.

One night, as he prayed, he poured his frustration out to the Lord. He had wanted to do good all his life, but all he appeared to have accomplished, outside of his work, was being able to teach people how to hit a simple target. Archery came so naturally to him that he couldn’t see how being able to hit a target really had any deeper meaning behind it. He was beginning to feel like he had been a failure in this life.

As he quietly poured out his heart to God, feeling the full weight of his own inadequacies, he was blessed with sight beyond even his own renowned ability to see. Into his mind came pictures of happy families who were well fed in times when others were in great want of food. He saw children grow and become self reliant, able to provide for their own families because of the skills he had taught their parents. Many of those he taught in the evenings had served with distinction defending their kingdom  There was a thread of joy that wove itself throughout all the images that came into his mind.

His heavy heart began to lighten as the burden of his perceived inadequacy was lifted from his shoulders. What began to dawn on this simple archer was that the Lord had been using him as a shaft of His own. God, in his infinite wisdom had found a way to use the archer’s simple gift to shower blessings down on His other children. The impact of those kindnesses he had shown the poor would be felt for generations to come. He had taught them to be self reliant, given them dignity, and the ability to take care of not just themselves, but of others. Where would the effects of such goodness end?

Lessons from the story

All of us have simple talents. We often fail to recognize them for the good they can do, but the Lord knows. All He needs is for us to be willing to do good, be kind, help others, and share whatever abilities we have. He can do the rest. We often fail to see the extent to which a single act of kindness extends. Even a simple thoughtful gesture can affect a life for the better that will ripple through other lives for generations to come. We do not see the extent of a good influence, but God does, and he can amplify that goodness many times over.

We all have a great capacity to do good. If we are willing to use it to bless the lives of others wherever and whenever we can, we will find that when we get to the end of our lives, the good that we have done for others will be the yardstick by which we measure the worth of our time here.

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The Parable of the Archer