An Impossible Target

My dad recently told me a story.

He was just down South for a work trip and ended up at a shooting range with a few colleagues. He met and began talking to a world-renowned marksman; I’ll call him Jason. Jason pulled out his personal rifle and asked my dad if he’d like to try it out. An unexperienced shot himself, but always willing to learn something new, my dad said yes. 

Jason configured the rifle for him and set it up on the table. He then directed my dad to look out across the 300 yards stretched in front of him and find the three inch tin target. That is, look out across these three back-to-back football fields, and find the bottom of the Coke bottle circle. Yeah. 

Never touching the gun himself, Jason talked my dad through how to hit the target. He walked him through the different configurations, how to account for the wind speed and direction, how to hold the rifle, how to handle the sensitivity of the trigger, and other specifications. My dad felt out of his depth, but he simply followed the directions. 

Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

“When you’re ready,” Jason finally said, “Just touch the trigger.”

My dad did. 

As soon as he did, a faint ping was heard.

“You hit it,” Jason affirmed. 

My dad couldn’t believe it. He followed all of Jason’s instructions was all, he shared with me. He didn’t have any expertise of himself. It was even Jason’s gun! 

My dad was content with his 1 for 1 score and passed along the rifle to his colleague who wanted to try it out. 

One of his colleagues didn’t bring the humility my dad did to the experience. Instead of listening to the expert marksmen, he claimed to know what he was doing. Several plumes of dirt behind the target showed that he actually did not know what he was doing. Jason jokingly referred to him as “Rhino” for the way he aggressively pulled the trigger that merely needed a light touch. Only after humbling himself and listening to Jason did he finally hit the target. 

After listening to my dad tell that story a few hours ago, it came back to mind in my morning reading:

“For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” 1 Corinthians 4:7

My dad did not walk away from that shooting range full of himself, convinced he was an expert shot and that he was bound for greatness in marksmanship. He walked away in gratitude to Jason for sharing his rifle, his counsel, and his humility in spite of being one of the best in the world. 

His colleague reminds me of how I sometimes handle things. I don’t like to be taught, and I don’t like to be aware of my insufficiency. So I pretend it’s not there. Which is just as silly as what he did. Instead of hitting the target — of any kind — I only hit dirt. Because that’s all I’m capable of by myself. 

I have lofty and, I believe, God-given goals in life. I have targets to hit. But I’m not an expert marksman in righteousness. I need Jesus to do all of the guiding, all of the enabling, all of the equipping. My only part is to listen and obey as much as lies within my power and leave the rest to Him. Then, when the target is hit, I’ll be as astonished as my dad was. I’ll be in awe of the One who made it all happen. And I’ll be grateful just for His love, grace, and compassion. What good thing do I have that was not given to me as a gift? May I always remember that it’s all a gift