If you truly live before you die, your life will have a power that not even death can conquer. There are some of us with two feet planted squarely on the ground. We’re alive, so to speak, but to be near us brings death and disappointment.
So what will you do? What will you choose? Will you settle for less than what God has intended for you, or will you just keep striking the arrow until there is nothing left of you to give, until you have given everything you have and everything you are—and you know that, when it is all said and done, you’ve died with your quiver empty?
While Jesus hung on the cross, in the final minutes of his life, he uttered one word that has been translated into three: “It is finished” (John 19:30). There is no more profound example of a man who left nothing undone, who held nothing back, who gave everything of himself and gave himself completely.
Though it was a tragic death, there’s something strangely beautiful about that moment: being able to whisper with your last breath one word that lets the world know you did exactly what you were born to do. In that moment, death has no power, death has no victory. There is no regret—only a deep sense of fulfillment.
I am convinced that when we live our lives connected to the One who gave his life for us—when we live fearlessly, courageously and without reservation—we will come to the end of our own lives and with our last breaths we, too, will be able to say, “Mission completed.” And perhaps in that moment, we will hear Jesus whisper into the depth of our souls, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matt. 25:21).
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The way to write is to throw your body at the mark when your arrows are spent.” I agree wholeheartedly, except I would add one particular nuance: that the way to live is to throw your body at the mark when your arrows are spent. May we all stand on the battlefield charging fearlessly toward the enemy lines and know that when it’s all said and done, we struck our last arrow.
For though I may not know you personally, this I know for certain: There are great battles ahead of you. There are dragons to slay and giants to bring down. And while you may not know what battles you are yet to face, there is one thing you can know—that you are battle ready. That you are prepared for the great fight. That for you there is no option. You will shoot your every arrow.
And when your bow is done, you will take that last arrow in your hand, and with your last breath and all the strength left within you—you will strike, you will strike and you will strike.
Erwin Raphael McManus is an iconoclast, artist and cultural-thought leader known for his integration of creativity and spirituality. He is the founder of MOSIAC, a Los Angeles-based community of faith recognized as one of the most influential and innovative churches in America. This article is excerpted from The Last Arrow: Save Nothing for the Next Life. Copyright © 2017 by Erwin Raphael McManus. Published by WaterBrook, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.