Firearms are powerful and to be respected- their usefulness in hunting and defense is a source of debate for many; especially with the tragic stories and political agendas of recent months. Those are discussions for another forum. However, I do want to share with you that I have recently rediscovered marksmanship as a hobby and I love it. There is skill required in hitting that target from a distance with a small, fast travelling bullet. Not only that-but, breaking down, cleaning, and learning about various types of firearms is quite interesting. About 20 years ago, I discovered the world of marksmanship while at 4-H camp. I even assisted in the instruction of the course one year as a counselor. It has been many years since, but it has become something I really enjoy.
“Marksmanship” is defined simply as the skill of shooting a target. There is so much involved in that action though…breath control, stance, dominant eye, shot alignment and trigger control are just a few factors. There is also a certain level of knowledge beyond that when it comes to cleaning and care of a firearm. Last night, my hubby and I were cleaning some rifles that had not been used in many, many years. Some are too old to use, and others were showing the damage from years of improper storage, inadequate care and lack of use. Guns, unused and improperly stored, tend to rust. The parts may not glide as intended and the firearm may not function in a safe manner- if at all. This is not only the case with firearms (and most mechanical equipment in general) but, it’s true of people and skills too. At a recent NRA Basic Pistol course, the instructor shared the story of a retired soldier and marksman for the Marines. He was no longer active, but wanted to keep his skills sharp. He made the point that any skill-set can deteriorate or become completely unusable over time if it is not practiced and used on a regular basis. He didn’t want to become inaccurate when aiming at and hitting his target. As we were cleaning, I began thinking about being a Christian.
How do we, as Christians and followers of Christ, know if we are hitting the target, making the mark, or if we’re even close when it comes to our Christian walk? Bible study, staying in the Word, prayer and a personal relationship with God.
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work
2 Timothy 3:14-17
9 How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
12 Praise be to you, Lord; teach me your decrees.
13 With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.
14 I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.
15 I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.
16 I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.
A person has to know what the target is…what is expected…in order to be able to assess if they have hit the target or if they are even close. If a person, marksman or otherwise, is not close to the target before them, then corrections need to me made to improve accuracy. This brings King Josiah to mind. In 2 Kings 22, King Josiah began to clean up Jerusalem, which included restoring the temple. Verse 2 says that he did right in the eyes of the Lord but how did he know what that was? Back then, it was word of mouth. Their traditions and truths were passed down through teaching. If you have ever played the childhood game of “telephone”, then you know that word of mouth sometimes becomes less than accurate over time. So, when the high priest Hilkiah found the Book of Law in the temple and passed it on to King Josiah- he had to be elated! He would finally have the honor of hearing God’s Law directly from the book itself. That joy soon turned to disappointment, despair and grief as Josiah heard the words from the Book of Law and realized how far “off target” they really were as a people. He tore his robes and asked that the Law be read to all of the people so they, too, could hear for themselves. They thought that they were doing everything according to the will of God, but in reality, they were not living within the Laws that God had set forth for them. Josiah set to work right away. He had all of the altars and idols removed and destroyed, smashed the Asherah poles and did away with the altars that children were sacrificed on (yep, they had gotten WAY off track).
24 Furthermore, Josiah got rid of the mediums and spiritists, the household gods, the idols and all the other detestable things seen in Judah and Jerusalem. This he did to fulfill the requirements of the law written in the book that Hilkiah the priest had discovered in the temple of the Lord. 25 Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.
2 Kings 23:24-25
During his reign, he was deliberate about reforming the kingdom to be within the will of the Lord- they even celebrated Passover for the first time in many years. He knew what to do and what needed to change based on the actual Book of Law itself.
It’s much easier than one may think to get off track as a Christian. I have done it…and got WAY off track. It may not have involved child sacrifice, but I sacrificed and compromised myself in many other ways. Years later I remember wondering, “What in the world happened? How did I get so far off?” It was the lack of a personal relationship and a daily walk with the Lord with no ‘course correction’…over years of time. I didn’t stay in the Word and I had no idea how far outside of God’s will I would go.( Ironically, it was 18 years into Josiah’s reign when the Book of Law was discovered…and 18 years of wandering aimlessly for myself personally.)
Become an expert marksman…a sharpshooter! Know your target, and stay on task for the Lord. Keep your mind and your heart well oiled and rust free. It’s a walk that must be practiced daily- course corrections and adjustments may need to be made along the way. If you’re praying and feeding yourself daily with the truth in the Bible, these course corrections will hopefully be minor.