Daily Devotions | September 14, 2021

Sinew Bow

by Rollie J.

Stealing a move from Pastor Laurie’s playbook, I begin with David, the masterpiece sculpture in marble by Michael Angelo. My latest Spanish historic novel, “El Desafio de Florencia,” is based on the competitive and bitter rivalry between Michael Angelo and Leonardo DaVinci from the 16th century Renaissance in Florence, Italy. It fascinates me when I realized that Angelo carved David from a single block of Italian marble. What incredible foresight, x-ray vision, imagination and unbelievable skill set to be able to see inside the rock and birth this magnificent life-like sculpture of David.

It has long been famously quoted by Angelo, that he could see David hidden inside the stone. It was his task to release and chisel away everything that was not David. The details of the human body he sculpted in creating David, are absolutely mind boggling to me.

This type of marble sculpting is all about taking away, removal, and chiseling away all that is not necessary. And remember this little but hugely important truth, David did not create or make himself. He was not a self-made man. He was created by a master sculptor, a Creator much greater than himself.

Building this primitive bow is simple in theory, yet a bit more complicated in practicality and skill. The process is one of reduction, or removal, of taking away all that is not the bow. For a hopeful bowyer like myself, I must image the bow, its shape, and potential within the rough stave itself. I begin by shaving off all the rough bark, then I choose a single growth ring. Using my draw knife, I remove all wood down to this single growth ring being very careful not to violate that single ring. If a ring is violated, the bow will most likely explode upon use.

After achieving a single ring down the entire length of the stave, I then rough out the shape and begin the lengthy process of removing all the wood that is not the bow. The next step is that of tillering; getting the limbs to bend gracefully; equally and symmetrically. Once a good tiller is achieved, and my desired bow weight is reached, I sand to a beautiful smooth finish.

To add extra security to my bow to prevent breakage and add a little bit more snap to the bow I add a couple of layers of sinew using hide glue. The sinew I’ve recovered from previous deer I have harvested, from their backstrap and leg hocks. Once dried, pounded, and then combed the sinew becomes almost like a natural form of fiberglass. Once the sinew has dried a couple of weeks, I add a pair of diamondback rattle skins for camouflage and a “cool” factor. A few coats of varnish and voila! A beautiful, sexy, and lethal new bow.

My newest creation came in around 55 pounds of pull and packs a good punch on the target. It shoots beautifully and I smile every time I hold it in my hand or feel its tension as I draw. I look forward to harvesting a big buck or two with my new creation this fall! It is a thrill to use a bow of my own creation.

You cannot be anything you want to be. But you can be everything God wants you to be. Cure for the Common Life, by Max Lucado

David was given shape, purpose, and meaning by his creator Michael Angelo. My new bow was given shape, purpose, and meaning by me, its creator. You were handcrafted, molded, shaped, and purposefully created by God. You’re not just a random act of the universe. You have a purpose and gift package given to you by God.

Most motivational speakers regurgitate a very similar, common, and oft-repeated theme and variation of “Be all that you can Be! If you can dream it, you can achieve it! Dream, Believe, Achieve!” There can be bits of truth in these words, but the much bigger truth is that the best flight path in life is to simply be who God created you to be. He is the one who designed you from the get-go.

When I built this recent bow, I had a specific use and purpose in mind when I built it. I didn’t design it to be a ladder, or canoe paddle, nor a rake. I built it to be a bow. A beautiful, lethal, and aesthetically pleasing hunting bow. Design reveals function. When my bow functions within the parameters of what I built it for, it is a beautiful sensation for both creator and creation.

The truth of our lives is the ongoing and never-ending task of becoming and discovering who God created us to be. We are each created by God with a unique package of gifts, abilities, talents, and skills. We are each hard wired with natural inborn aptitudes and competencies. The reverse is also true. None of us are good at all things. When we operate and live from within our “God Pocket” of abilities, it is truly a beautiful thing. We are blessed, we bless others in our circle of influence and our Creator just smiles! Win, Win, Win!

So maybe the motivational speakers are right… maybe you can be whatever or whomever you want to be. But I don’t think you’ll ever discover the sense of purpose, direction, and true fulfillment until you settle into your “God pocket.” Not what the media tells us to be, not what our parents wanted us to be, not who your older brother or sister are, not who the self-help books tell you to be. Rick Warren boldly declares: “You were made by God and for God and until you understand that life will never make sense.”

All of us were designed and purposed to imitate and become more like our creator, Jesus, each day. The process of growth and maturity then is one of removal, or reduction of all that is in that is not Christ like in our lives. This is an ongoing and never-ending process. Something I wrestle with daily.

I know in my own life, there are many stubborn pockets of resistance in my attitudes and behaviors that look nothing like Jesus. Hardened pockets of pride, ego, jealousies, lust and envy, and their underlying source called selfishness. God is still chiseling away at my life when I let him. When I get out of the way and quit trying to manipulate and control. When I surrender.

So, my prayer for you today would be quit trying to live into someone you are not. You were not created to be like the other guy or gal. You were purposely made to just be you. So, get out there and bless the world and your maker by living into the you that God intentionally created. It’s a beautiful thing when you do!

-- Rollie J.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place ,when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all
the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be. Psalm 139

“Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God, your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some, it is in everyone. And, as we let our light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others. Nelson Mandela, Inaugural Speech

Until we can honestly say; “I am who God says I am and that’s all that matters.” Our lives will be restless indeed.
Rick Warren

When I can say with Paul, “not I live, but Christ lives in me,” then I no longer need to depend on the attention of others to have a sense of self. Because then I realize that my most important identity is the identity I have received as a grace of God and which has made me a participant in the divine life of God himself. Henri Nouwen

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